If reports are to be believed, Apple Music has touched a download figure of about 10 million users only 4 weeks after its launch. That itself is amazing if we compare with Spotify which took more than five and half years to reach to first 10 million paying customers. Spotify today has about 75 million customers, out of which 20 million are paying customers. After the release of iOS9 along with newer launches of iPhone models, the number of customers for Apple is expected to increase considerably.
So, is Apple on the way to dethrone the King of streaming industry – Spotify?
Apple Music, the streaming service of music from Apple is an on demand service for downloading selected music. The music can be played live via internet streaming and also can be saved to the device for offline access. It is compatible with devices having iOS version 8.4 or later. So, if you do not have the same version in your device, you would require to update your device to iOS 8.4. This update would change the existing Music App in your device to the app available with Apple Music. Apple Music can also be signed up through iTunes either through the Apple Mac or Microsoft Windows PC. Only, the version needs to be updated to 12.2, if not already there. It is also compatible with OS X Mavericks, Windows 7, their latter versions and the Apple Watch.
iPod and iTunes, the precursors to Apple Music had “revolutionized digital music” . While former CEO, Steve Jobs was not supportive of the idea of subscription based music services, Apple never gave away the idea and so, Apple Music was released to public in 100 countries on June 30, 2015.
The Apple Music is designed to have both Live and not-Live Radio Stations. Beats 1 is a Live internet Radio station anchored by prominent artists and DJs. It is also a 24 x 7 Internet Radio Station broadcasting from Los Angeles, New York and London, available for 100 countries and includes prominent personalities like DJ Zane Lowe, who is former award winning BBC Radio 1 DJ, the American Radio presenter, Ebro Darden, and DJ Julie Adenuga. Another feature called Connect is a Blog platform, which helps artists to connect with their fans.
Apple Music also has on demand Internet radio Stations like Mixtape, which plays songs from the seventies and eighties, targeting the oldies, and Milennials, which streams current top rated music. One can also create his or her own station by selecting the song, the artist or the album and fine-tune the station with feedback.
Apple Music has signed off about 15,000 artists, which include even the reluctant Taylor Smith. Incidentally, just before the release of Apple Music, Taylor Smith had criticized Apple’s policy not to pay artists, writers, producers during the three month initial free trial as unfair. Apple announced swiftly that they had changed their policy and would pay all those during the free trial period, and therefore Taylor Smith changed her mind and allowed Apple to have her music streamed.
Apple Music has however received mixed or negative response for its interface, and there are quality issues and cell life problems. Moreover, the question is whether Apple would be able to sustain the initial euphoria of downloads, once the three – month trial period expires. It would be interesting to watch how many users would be willing to pay for downloads an amount of US $ 9.99 per month, or have a family plan for $ 14.99 option for 6 members.
As per CNet, Apple Music has a large repository of songs – 30 million from iTunes catalog and also includes music purchased earlier from iTunes. Apple allows one to upload music or tracks from one’s own collection to the iCloud Music Library.
Its integration to Siri provides for a great voice control feature. It is an intelligent app through which you can ask questions and Siri would intelligently suggest the songs or respond to your queries. It has a great recommendation system involving algorithms and human inputs. Apple Music prompts one to enter one’s profile with regards to music. It would allow the artists to be picked as per the genres of preference. Apple also plans to provide good cross-platform support for Apple Music.
However, the interface is cluttered with lot of information with the iCloud Music Library inconsistent and complicated. A major problem in the design is the number of submenus that would make one feel lost. Additionally, lack of organization in playlists, albums, videos and other groupings is difficult to manage. The navigation is not up to the mark and it is surprising that Apple, who is known for design excellence has not looked into this. Is absence of Steve Jobs a factor?
In addition, Apple Music streams at 256 Kbps, whereas the maximum rate of streaming for Spotify is 320 Kbps. Therefore, Apple’s streaming quality could be a little poorer, but the difference in sound quality may not be understandable to users.
Apple has done its bit in releasing the Apple Music, but it may be too early to say whether it would be able to be the Number One in the Music Streaming Industry immediately. It would be interesting to watch Apple’s progress once the three month of trial is over.