Following WWDC main keynote Tim Cook took the stage to wrap up & announce the famous Steve Jobs tagline “One more thing…” That one more thing being the Apple Music service. This has been highly talked about since Apple purchased Beats back in 2014 for around $3 Billion.
So Cook takes the stage and highlights the three part music system. Breaking down the music streaming service, 24/7 online radio station, and a platform to connect artists & fans, all in one place. That said I wanted to highlight my thoughts on the upcoming service focusing on the good, bad, ugly. To give some context I’ve been recently playing the field with the music streaming services. Currently subscribed to Spotify Premium, Tidal Hi-Fi Subscription, and of course using iTunes to purchase albums/music now & again.
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Starting off with the absolute worst. The presentation in itself was just truly hard to watch over. It felt rushed on Apple’s end & involved a lot of talking around & saying a lot without saying much at all. Not focusing on the key things that will separate Apple’s Music service from the rest. It hyped up a lot of the artistry & not enough about the music, standalone features, etc. Acting as if the features they have a revolutionary & groundbreaking when in reality they’re nothing new.
The catalogue is arguably the most integral part of a streaming service & with a service like iTunes being the most popular online marketplace for music you’d expect a huge library. Apple Music is offering just that with around 30 million songs readily available. This isn’t the entire iTunes library of course as Apple is still to working out deals to get as much music streamable as possible. However this is about on par with Spotify’s library its number one competitor really at this point.
Apple already has millions of billing information within its Apple ID system making that much more easier for iOS/OS X users to sign up. Never underestimate people’s ability to simply sign up to what they’re already tied into.
Apple really wants to make their music service widely known & thus they’re making it available from iOS to Android & Windows. Though this goes both ways as there are limitations on the Android end, so we’re not getting a truly equal experience. On top of that the service will be available to 100 countries versus Spotify’s 58.
The service will allow for professional & independent artist alike to upload their music to the streaming service. Surely there will be a set of standards to get verified for the service but this does mean that its not limited to just the big labels out there.
The Family plan is simply great. six users for $15 we’ll surely see people take advantage of this whether or not they have six people in their family.
- No Free Model
Apple Music will not be offering a free ad-supported model. With competitors like Spotify already having the advantage the free model makes a zero cost of entry highly appealing. In order to capture the bigger user base & those who are new to a streaming service the free model would be a great sell. Apple is however offering a 3-month free trial starting June 30th which may help them with their launch.
- Base Quality
Apple Music will offer streaming at 256kbps. Now for the majority this may not be bad or a con at all as they can’t tell the difference between 256 to 320 or Tidal’s lossless audio. Though if you do subscribe to Spotify Premium or Tidal you get better quality for the same price.
- App Design
In my personal opinion the biggest let down was the app itself for Apple Music. It felt very iOS 7 to me. Not as visual or interactive as I would’ve thought. Apple tends to focus on simplicity & easy to manage controls. All of which are highly important when it comes to music. So far aside from the artist page it seems like a slightly modified Music app.
- The Differentiators
Apple Music offers two things that try to set it apart from the rest of pack. First being the Beats powered 24/7 radio service with talent like Zane Lowe that Apple hired to focus on streaming the latest in music, interviews, and overall culture. A station everyone can listen to at anytime all at once around the world. Online radio is nothing new & this is more so focusing on the talent. Think of it more as a plus one to the overall service.
The other side being Connect. Apple’s part two of Ping. Yes Ping, if you remember that. A platform to connect artists to fans & vice versa. Giving them ways to provide exclusive content from lyrics to unreleased songs. This part really depends on the artists adoption & how well Apple really promotes the whole connection aspect. I love the idea of making a more personal platform that allows the listeners to feel as if they’re getting in touch with their favorite artists. However if Apple doesn’t build this out & get the attention needed its essentially a Facebook fan page.
As of right now the differentiators are nice but not great. They’ll certainly be worth trying out as you get them free with your $10 subscription anyway. The true focus will be on a couple of things. Exclusive rights & deals Apple can score both on the music library front & across their radio station. Offering a bigger & better library & trying their best to tap into the culture of music focusing not just on the artists but the content itself. What listeners want streamed & access to, that can help it stand out in a sea of competitors. Last but not least making the app fluid & simple enough for anyone to pick up & use. To really understand what “Apple Music” is. Even if its simply a way for them to save money versus buying music every month. At that point we’ll need to hear more about the artist split with Apple as with the streaming service artists are expected to take a hit revenue wise. So we’ll see what Apple does cut wise to justify this.
It’s too early to give the ultimate say on the service obviously as it’s not even released yet. Come June 30th I’ll be stacking it up against the other competitors out there & seeing in the end where it stands. If its another service that just picks up well & integrates into my iOS lifestyle or simply fades away & will require time & money to even come close to scratching the likes of a service like Spotify.