You’ll need Apple Music to listen to J. Cole’s albums in spatial audio

Artists and tech companies are more determined than ever to use 360-degree audio as a hook to lure you in. J. Cole he did Apple Music is the exclusive home for spatial audio mixes (in this case, Dolby Atmos) from its full catalog. You may need to change services if you want to hear 2014 Forest Hills Drive or the low season with a more immersive soundstage.

The change does not necessarily require new hardware. Dolby Atmos playback is automatic with recent AirPods and Beats headphones, but you can manually enable the format for Android or compatible third-party audio equipment.

The deal comes just days after the David Bowie estate made later albums available on a trio of services in Sony’s 360 Reality Audio format and shows how spatial audio has become a significant battleground. Streaming providers clearly expect you to sign up to hear their favorite stars in a new way, but Apple, Sony and others also benefit by spurring sales of headphones and other hardware. Don’t be surprised if you see more (and possibly bigger) exclusives popping up in the near future.

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