The Great Apple Music Pivot

Great. The day iOS 8.4 gets released and Apple launches both their streaming music service and the Beats 1 radio station, I have a complete and utter meltdown of my home network. There’s a some kind of glitch in the matrix between my network and the router. Damned if I can figure out what it is.

This is an important day of Apple. They’re making a huge gamble on their presence in the music industry. How many of the 800 million people who have their credit cards registered with iTunes will sign up for the new service? I’ve heard predictions as high as 100 million, but that’s crazy. If they get 25 million paying customers to start, that will put them ahead of Spotify–but would Apple consider that any kind of victory? We’ll see.

Meanwhile, we have this story from Above Avalon called “The Great Apple Music Pivot.”

Apple Music is the right product at the wrong price. Music subscriptions based on human curation and discovery are the future, but putting more than 30 million songs behind a paywall won’t help facilitate widespread adoption. Apple Music’s family plan option will give the service life, but more is needed. The free music subscription model will eventually be too difficult for Apple to ignore. By pivoting to include free music, Apple Music will then be in a much better position to put the business of music on a path to sustainability. The music industry needs its “App Store” moment, and the combination of free music, Apple’s premium user base, and Apple Music’s Connect would be the closest thing yet to that vision becoming a reality.

Apple Music Ambitions

While the press has run with the Apple Music versus Spotify storyline, in reality, Apple’s music ambitions are much more grandiose. Apple is once again trying to build music sustainability by selling an all-encompassing music service. There is precedent for such lofty goals as the iTunes ecosystem presented the music industry with a much needed reprieve from the rise of piracy and genuine questions of music’s sustainability. Apple relied on a service that capitalized on ease of use to stoke demand for paid music downloads. Ten years later, while things may have not changed much as labels are still making short-term decisions guided by money, and there are renewed questions around music sustainability, we now live in a world where free music subscriptions are gaining momentum and acceptance.

One reason Apple is fully embracing paid music streaming and avoiding a free music steaming tier is to change the perception surrounding music’s inherent value. By having consumers look at music as something worth paying for – a good with inherent value – it will be easier to get people to pay for music through other mediums in the future. A culture based on free may not bode too well when trying to sell new music initiatives and services. Take a look at the App Store for evidence of this trend.

Read the entire article here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

2 thoughts on “The Great Apple Music Pivot

  • June 30, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    I have it working on my iPhone but not on my mac, even after updating to 10.10.4 iTunes is still Apparently you need iTunes 12.2… update likely coming in the next hour. First song listened to on Beats 1 “”Brian Eno – Ambient 1: Music for Airports”…. ugh…. it can only get better from here

    • June 30, 2015 at 10:46 pm

      I had to do a OS update in order to get my iMac to update iTunes.


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