Apple Music: A ’music revolution’ or the default winner?
The ‘one complete thought’ that Jimmy Lovine spoke of at the launch of Apple Music couldn’t have been brought to life more poignantly than Daniel Ek’s “Oh, Ok”. This was the only comment that the Spotify’s Chief Executive Officer tweeted at WWDC to describe the launch of Apple Music (disclaimer: it has since been deleted). It is seemingly juvenile but actually is very suitable in the quest to predict what Apple Music means for the future of the music streaming industry and the advertising within it. Will it revolutionise, flop, or triumph by default (literally).
So what is Apple Music? For those of you who haven’t read the news this week its Apple’s new music streaming model:
- Paid subscription only (USD 9.99/individually or USD 14.99/family)
- Available on android
- 30 million tracks
- Special features: Beats 1 Radio, Connect+
Now, there are quite a few considerations to take into when trying to predict the future of Apple Music:
- Lots of moving parts aren’t easy to pin down: Apple Music is unique in its offering. It is a music streaming service with an immense back catalogue, a global radio station with live DJs (Beats 1), curated playlists handpicked by experts not algorithms, and a social network (Connect+) that lets artist interact with their fans. Ambitious, to say the least. With all of these moving parts it’s hard to say if they’ve nailed them all down. The ghosts of Apple’s Ping and iTunes Radio come to mind but only time will tell if this ‘ecosystem’ is truly going to be an ecosystem.
- Another Tidal wave? Before Apple Music, another major player entered the market in a similar evangelical style: Tidal. The paid subscription only model had the backing of every major artist conceivable was hailed as the killer of Spotify and Pandora. This is yet to transpire. Users have always favoured a ‘freemium’ model, where the payment is opt in and the choice is everyone’s. This was Tidal’s downfall and it could also be Apple Music’s.
- First mover advantage is so 2003: Apple music launched with a nod to its innovative ITunes Store launch in 2003. ITunes actually did revolutionise how the world bought music: the a la carte way. It was a game changer, no doubt, but parallels cannot be made. Apple had first mover advantage back in 2003, no one had done this before so the rules were there for the making. The music streaming world of 2015 is very different, and very established. Is it too late in the game for Apple to come in and change the current democratic model?
- To advertise or not to advertise? The potential to advertise at scaled reach is huge with Apple Music, however this isn’t likely to transpire for a while. Data collecting capabilities in such a model are also enormous. Although Apple is very guarded about their users personal data, with such boundless prospects is hard not to imagine that Apple Music will collect and analyse the data and eventually let brands monetise it in some way.
So, yes the future of Apple Music is very much a ‘watch this space’. However, if Apple Music is to actually succeed it will not be due to the fact that it’s better than its competitors but down to this simple yet significant detail: Apple Music is going to be the default player for all Apple devices with iOS 8.4, more noteworthy given the loyalty Apple users also have for its services. Currently Apple has 800 million accounts, it has taken Spotify nine years to build up 75 million users. That’s a pretty hefty prospect pool.
Apple Music is the only player in the market that has automatic access to one of the biggest mobile ecosystems in the world, and it’s going to embed Apple Music into all of them.