Neil Cybart: ‘Apple Music is the right product at the wrong price’

“Apple Music is the right product at the wrong price,” Neil Cybart writes for Above Avalon.

“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,” Cybart writes. “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,” Cybart writes. “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.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: $4.99/month a the price Apple reportedly wanted from the labels, but were refused – would have been perfect in the U.S. Of course, the greedy music labels shot themselves in the foot because that’s what they do. Perhaps, if they ever wise up, Apple will get to $4.99/month in the U.S. after all.


  1. Think yourselves in the US lucky! In the UK we’ve been slammed with the usual $ to £ conversion 1 to 1. We’re paying equivalent of $15.71 for your $9.99 tier and $23.58 for your $14.99 tier. So moaning about price in the US is laughable.

    1. It is your VAT that does you in. What is it now, 20%?

      Our 9.99 price includes no tax. Tax is added after. Your 9.99 includes tax, 20% of it.

      Let’s work this out……start with the 9.99 U.S. Dollar amount that we pay in the U.S. Added 20%…….that’s about 12 dollars. Now convert to UK pounds with whatever the currency rate is. I believe you will arrive at around the 9.99 pound value.

      So don’t feel so ripped off. You are not.

      Brits always say this without bothering to look into the details.

      1. Yes you are correct that VAT at 20% should be added before any like for like comparison is made. But even after adding VAT, the correct price if there was to be parity with the U.S. Would/should be £7.60 sterling not £9.99 sterling. So yes Brits are being ripped off as per usual.

        1. Oh just one more thing, I go to the UK quite a bit. I am always surprised when I go to the Pub…. it is jam-packed with money flying everywhere. One round for 3 people was about 17 pounds! House prices NEVER go down, instead increase a good percentage every year. Yet we hear there is a turndown of the economy.

          Point is, buying ANYTHING in the UK is about the same in pounds as it is in dollars over here. So why not Apple Music too.

          1. Interesting logic you have there Paul, things are expensive here in the UK therefore that gives everyone a free pass to overcharge cos everyone else does it. Thanks for imparting your unconventional wisdom on us.

            1. If it was the other way round would you still have the same opinion? I think not. People is US moaning that India is getting it for equivalent of $2 and the indignation that someone should get something cheaper than the US is not something Americans are used to.

              Just because prices never go down in the UK DOES NOT mean we should get screwed deliberately…

    2. Sounds like Tim Cook is ripping off the European market with Apple Music, the same way he is robbing us all with his crippled Macbook and shitty Apple Watch!

      I DO not trust the new Apple!

    3. Apple Music is the WRONG Product at ANY price. Destroyed my 4TB iTunes library and removed all the playlists and songs I had loaded on my iPad Air 2 at the flip of the iCloud Music Library switch. Total evil crap.😱😖😠😡👎🏼

      Thank God for a Time Machine backup. Only 6 hours later did my reversion to Apple Music ignorant iTunes 12.1.2 recover what Apple Music tried to take away from me.😠😤😩😱

  2. I’ve purchased over 700 CDs and before that, an equal number of LPs and cassettes (and even 8 tracks). Gotta be ten of thousands of dollars of music over the years.

    $9.99 per month seems cheap by comparison.

    1. My wife and I have spent nearly $10k to acquire just north of a thousand CDs. So, on the surface, $10 or even $15 per month to access a relatively unlimited music collection does seem inexpensive. But, they’re not exactly equivalent.

      The big differences are true ownership, intrinsic value, transferability, and “collection”.

      With the CDs, the cost can be amortized over many, many years – essentially a lifetime. I’m probably at $25/mo average for our collection, but that number will continue to fall.

      The collection give some people joy, and has some value (even if small), so can be traded, sold, given, or donated.

      The downside is that a collection takes up room and can be lost, stolen, or destroyed, and must be converted (i.e. ripped) to enjoy on mobile devices.

      I actually like streaming, and have been a Spotify customer for several years now, but the move from owning and enjoying a personal collection to just permanently “renting” music is fascinating from a long-term societal change perspective.

    2. I have a very well covered music collection that starts in the mid 40s and ends in the mid 90s.

      Most post mid 90s to mid 10s do not interest me at all. Who needs free when I already have my favorite music.

  3. While a $4.99 price point would be nice I don’t have a problem with $9.99. If the content is good and the service works well that is a small price to pay – the cost of an album a month in the old model. What would be nice is to see Apple Music really upend the traditional record label model so that musicians can directly sell to consumers and keep the money. Artists deserve to get paid for their work.

  4. The single plan is $10; in line with all the others. The KILLER item in Music is the “family plan” at $15 per month for a “family of 6”. Do the math and the Family Plan is roughly $2.50 per month per person. That price for the quality provided by Apple is OUTSTANDING…..

    Think of it as bargain priced internet when everybody piggy-backs off the neighbor with the “open” wi-fi network…..or Netflix with their sharing options…….

  5. Sure, let’s make it $4.99/month. Why not $3.99/month, or let’s just race the bottom, and not charge at all? Less money for the musicians who actually make the music. The musicians don’t need royalties at all, they can live like buskers. It all sounds great, until you think it through and realize the ones getting screwed are the artists themselves, which means the quality of music will continue to deteriorate as lack of incentives drive them away from creating music. The starving artist is a romantic notion, not reality.

    1. I am pretty sure there would have been double and more people subscribing to $4.99 than there will be at $9.99.

      I am not buying in that $9.99. Not fan enough. But I would’ve at $4.99. I am not the only one.

      1. You must be new here. It doesn’t matter if sales would have been double at $4.99/mo. That’s a stupidly low price, and at that price, nobody (including Apple) would make any money. It doesn’t matter how many more customers you attract if you’re not making money.

        Read up on Dell and their shrinking profit margins all through the 90’s and early-2000’s. As profit margins shrink, the sales volume required to operate profitably expands to infinity and ultimately the business won’t make money anymore. This is the “race to the bottom” you can read about in the comments here.

        1. You must be too old here to understand that 72% of 4.99 and 72% of $9.99 is actually the same metrics. The only difference is the amount of people bying in.

          If you compare hardware (Dell) and software&services (apps & streaming) you get it wrong.

          Did you know that $4.99 was Apple first intention?

          Hopefully, you will never manage my money 😉

    2. The “starving artist” doesn’t make money from record sales, the record company does. Starving artist make their money by going on tour. Sucks, but that’s the way the record companies set it up.

            1. Unless you spend a serious amount of time in the car (professional driver or road warrior), most people’s data plans will cover an adequate amount of audio streaming.

              Having spent lots of hours in rental cars listening to satellite radio, I have no interested in paying for it. The audio stream is highly compressed and as a result, audio quality is terrible. Streaming is far, far superior quality-wise.

              Yes, coverage is an issue for some, but for most people, most of the time, it’s not a problem.

              There are certainly pluses and minuses to both, but for me, streaming is the only way to go.

  6. CDs have been the mainstream music distribution format for the last 30 years. During that time, I have accummulated some 300 discs (averages to about one per month). The average price of those CDs was likely higher than $10; the early ones from the 80s actually cost well over $20 in 80’s dollars, which would likely be well over $50 today.

    If we look at the life span of previous music formats (LP, casette), we can roughly guess that it is somewhere around 50 years from the moment they entered mainstream, to the moment they became rather marginal. Based on that, CDs have some 15 years or so to go until they are more-or-less extinct. At that time, music lovers will need to “buy the White Album all over again” (to quote a character from Men in Black) in whatever format ends up dominating (currently, AAC from iTunes).

    This math is to tell me that, if we take 50 years as the nominal life span of music format, after which we as consumers migrate to the next thing, then $10 per month for 50 years of music equals to about $6,000, which is equivalent to 600 albums of today (on iTunes).

    If your collection of music, as accumulated over 50 years, exceeds 600 albums (or 6,000 songs), you would be saving money with Apple Music.

    1. with Apple Music you get a giant collection NOW at $10 a month. Spending $10 a month on CDs means that for years I would only have a few CDs, after 2 years I would only have something like 24 CDs! to enjoy a ‘full’ collection would take you a lifetime …. with Apple music I can enjoy a full collection now.

  7. Apple do need to make money out of this and so do the labels and artists.
    Even at $15 a month, that is $180 a year for access to the whole catalog. So for every 1M subscribers that is revenue of $150M per year. They would really a minimum of 10M subscribers to generate some revenue and that is only $375M per quarter. Only if subscribers reach 100M would revenue per quarter be in the 3-4M range.
    So is it realistic that price could be dropped to $5 per month?
    FWIW I have signed up for the family subscription. Getting songs was easy. Discovering songs is a bit trickier but I am still learning how the system is organized.

  8. I spent less than £30 on music last year because I just bought CD’s that had been reduced to less than £4 each once they had been out for a while and were on sale. I have 10,000 odd songs in iTunes and even with a lot of them being album tracks I don’t love I don’t have time to listen to them regularly. I don’t have time to listen to all the podcasts I would like to either. I just don’t have the time so spending money regularly doesn’t seem worth it. I’d rather spend a tenner and go see some decent stand up like I did last night.

  9. It’s totally free for 90 days. My take so far- it’s completely slanted towards the popular and the useless (if not craptastic), but there are small gems and/or oases of tasteful and eclectic fare. One just has to look past the dross. And, yeah, it ain’t as easy as it should be. That whole dancing balloons thing to set up preferences is a livid joke.

  10. The MDN take on this is why the music industry is in a crisis: it’s not the “greedy music labels” that are the issue, it’s getting the musicians enough money for them to survive. This is why Taylor Swift and the Indies are fighting so hard against dirt cheap streaming: they can’t survive with Spotify pricing, it’s all a question of whether people are willing to support a viable music industry. I’m hoping that Apple’s pricing is successful. $10 a month is still not much, but it’s a lot better than MDN’s Samsung bottom-feeder pricing!

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