Apple’s new music strategy

“Music is an awkward subject for Apple. Music streaming represents one of the rare incidents of Apple losing control of one of its product’s life cycle (iTunes and the move from paid downloads to streaming),” Neil Cybart writes for Above Avalon. “In some ways, this should not be considered too big of a deal since the music business is a fraction of its former self as the product has seemingly been commoditized. In reality, it is more complicated, as Apple’s future product aspirations remain aligned with content, just not in a way that most people think. Music streaming and piracy will force Apple to reluctantly pivot its music strategy. While one can harp on the fact that Apple is incredibly late to the game, there are signs that Apple has already settled on a new music strategy: curation and discoverability. ”

“At first glance, such a situation would seem pretty bleak for Apple as music consumption is no longer tied to using iTunes,” Cybart writes. “In reality, there is still a way for Apple to regain a standing with music and it involves taking a page from the iPod/iTunes playbook: software. Differentiation in music still exists through curation and discoverability, although it remains obscure and clunky. Faint elements of social can be found throughout the entire process. Ask someone why they choose Soundcloud over Spotify or iTunes and you will get an answer. While it is debatable whether that answer is easy to replicate, the point is there is an answer. People still consider there to be some level of uniqueness in terms of how they discover music. Apple’s goal is to position Beats as the answer to music’s software problem.”

Much more in the full article – recommended – here.


  1. Music is simply evolving with technology. 15 years ago streaming music was not practical except for a few people who had very fast (for the time) internet connections to their computers. Data charges made streaming music to mobile phones hugely expensive, plus we didn’t have smartphones, so there was really no way to do it.

    Now we simply have a variety of streaming services, none of which has proven compelling enough to capture the bulk of the market like iTunes did with music downloads. I don’t think this represents a change in strategy for Apple away from iTunes and downloads, but rather an expansion of its music strategy to incorporate a new market which has proven to have legs. And it’s a market ripe for Apple to do its trademark come in late and revolutionize the thing.

    1. My problem with streaming is that is still doesn’t equal building my own playlist. When it does, it will then kill the download business (if not the music business itself). Until then, I still use FM for most of my streaming, and will continue to purchase music – mostly on CDs, but some downloads, too.

  2. iTunes took off when Apple was smart enough to release a version for Windows. Then every hyperlink would lead to iTunes.

    They forgot this strategy with Android and destroyed the universal deep link to iTunes.

  3. Here’s a different take on this: Apple recognizes that music streaming will kill music culture. If I’m a young musician whose come out with my first album, what incentive will I have if I’m getting a $100 a month in streaming royalties, even though millions of people are enjoying my music? That album took months of practice, songwriting, and hard work. A lot of people are recognizing it is quality art, but I can only make a $100 a month off this. You see what’s going to happen? There’s no incentive, I can make a lot more money working half time at McDonalds. This will kill music. I can only hope Taylor Swift’s boycott will lead to something…

    1. It is unfortunate that the industry has changed from a tour supporting an album to an album supporting a tour, but that is today’s reality. Someone unable to tour full time doesn’t have a shot anymore.

      1. “Someone unable to tour full time doesn’t have a shot anymore.”

        Someone who can’t afford the enormous expense of touring, someone whose music simply cannot be performed live, someone who’s just had a baby and would actually like to spend some time with it, someone who’s caring for a sick or elderly parent/spouse/child, etc., someone whose health prevents touring, someone who can’t leave the day job that’s been supporting their music habit and will continue to do so till (and IF) they make it big, someone whose music is a little obscure and therefore couldn’t attract enough fans even in New York to make a gig worth the hassle… The list goes on and on.

        It’s not about who does the best music, is it?

        You’re absolutely correct, Rinaldo. a few hours at MacDonalds pays FAR more. Even begging on a street corner for an hour a week would pay more. There’s absolutely no incentive for many (most?) good musicians.

        And on top of all that, they have to put up with the insanely ignorant, insulting and stupid reasons people come up with for not paying for music.

  4. Doesn’t anyone know about FM Radio? At least 20 to 30 stations, in most locals, playing every kind of music, all day and all night, for free.

    Radio is already in your homes and cars. Turn them on and see how easy it is to fix Apple’s problem.

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