Is Apple Music a total failure?

“Maybe it’s because I spent part of my morning locked in a losing battle of wills with its malfunctioning interface, but the news that Apple’s new streaming service, Apple Music, has only acquired 6.5 million paying subscribers since its summer launch strikes me as a pretty inauspicious start for a product with all the marketing muscle of the world’s most famous tech company behind it,” Jordan Weissmann writes for Slate. “CEO Tim Cook shared the figure Monday night at a Wall Street Journal tech conference, adding that another 8.5 million users are signed up for free three-month trials on the platform.”

“Americans alone owned an estimated 94 million iPhones as of March,” Weissmann writes. “With 15 million users total, less than half of whom are actually shelling out $9.99 a month for it, Apple Music doesn’t seem to have penetrated all that deeply among Apple fans, which is a little disconcerting given that the app shows up automatically as part of an operating system update.”

“Given that the service had about 11 million users signed up for free trials in August, Apple Music appears to be converting about 60 percent of the people who try it into paying customers—which has some analysts upbeat about the results,” Weissmann writes. “But there’s a strong chance a lot of those new paying members accidentally allowed their subscription to auto-renew and will cancel as soon as they realize they’re actually shelling out for the privilege of streaming Taylor Swift.”

Weissmann writes, “So, is Apple Music a total failure or just a slight disappointment? For the time being, I’d lean toward the latter.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s neither. It’s just now obvious to everyone that this subscription music thing is going to be a long hard slog. Apple is playing the long game here and these are very early innings. Apple Music is an excellent service, it just seems to be a tough sale to most people. Perhaps as they encounter those who have Apple Music – at a party, say – and see what having virtually every recorded piece of music at their fingertips is like, they’ll see the tremendous value Apple Music offers.

Don’t discount the tremendous advantage Apple Music enjoys by being preloaded on every iPhone, iPad, Mac, and iPod touch sold. Many millions will sample the service for their initial three-month trial period and some percentage will sign up. Eventually tens of millions (and beyond) will be subscribing to Apple Music.

Apple’s new billion-dollar businesses: Apple Watch and Apple Music – October 20, 2015
Tim Cook: Apple TV launches next week; Apple Music has 6.5 million paying subscribers – October 20, 2015
Are 11 million Apple Music subscribers – during a free trial in over 100 countries – worth bragging about? – August 10, 2015
Older people are more likely to pay for Apple Music – October 19, 2015
Jimmy Iovine: Apple Music ‘going really well,’ no ad-suported free tier ‘shell game’ – October 8, 2015
Eddy Cue on Apple Music: We’re not fixated on short-term subscriber numbers, ‘we’re in this for the long haul’ – October 1, 2015

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Tom R.” for the heads up.]


    1. For any friends or family that are music lovers, an outstanding idea. The gift that gives every day. And if they love it, just give it again every year. And tell them to think of you every day while they enjoy their unlimited music. 🙂

      1. This is the problem with iTunes in general, the App does not convey what it truly can do. Mommy I need the App Store Card to get apps… not really. Its credit redeemable nonetheless and I am sure the existing gift cards all work as payment towards Apple Music subscription.

  1. It’s had to unseat the market leader – Spotify.

    In the internet age it really is only one and it is hard to unseat that leader. Google in search, Spotify in music, Amazon in online everything sales.

    Apple really didn’t introduce anything compelling to make their music better for users of “the other music” streaming. Why switch?

    an Apple overcome this in music? Doubt it. Internet age once the leaders of a category is set – very hard to unseat.

    And by the way – I hate streaming music and do not think it is the future. Figure another paradigm Apple.

    1. spotify is not the market leader. they have 20 million paid subscribers, pandora is the market leader by far. The rest of the spotify users are using the free service and if that dries up so does spotify. There paid subscribers don’t pay enough to support the ones that don’t currently. Free will eventually go away.

  2. Sounds to me Weissmann is trying a little too hard to create a controversy.
    Those who don’t subscribe, are buying songs. Sounds like a success to me, especially with all the competition out there.
    Apple’s just getting started, and Weissmann is still trying to make a name for himself.

  3. I find it hard to understand how everything Apple does is seen by people as being a failure. Providing Apple can hold those 6.5 million subscribers for a year pulling in around $700 million is no small amount for most companies. For a three month start it doesn’t seem too shabby. Spotify’s business model isn’t profitable even after seven years, so I don’t see why Apple’s streaming service is considered a failure and not Spotify’s business model. It seems like the typical anti-Apple bias to me.

  4. …”as soon as they realize they’re actually shelling out for the privilege of streaming Taylor Swift.”

    Some of us prefer to stream Stravinsky, Mahler, Ravel and similar… Subscription isn’t only for those who prefer not to buy (avoiding future embarrassment by past music choices, such as mentioned Taylor Swift)…

    1. I’d you love classical, I recommend Tidal HiFi, especially if you use Roon or Audirvana+ players as the integration with Roon is incredible. Audirvana is hopefully about to add this as soon as he works out the kinks of Qobuz.

        1. Roon and Audirvana+ are software for Macs.
          They play all formats (ALAC, AIFF, MP3, AAC, FLAC, DSD, DXD, WAV, OGG)
          They also handle bit/sample rates up to 24/384.

          Roon is stand-alone. You tell it what files to use (including iTunes). It gives an incredible amount of info to digest.
          Tidal can be turned on in Roon to integrate with your playlist.
          It is what iTunes should be.

          Audirvana+ can be used as a stand-alone player that uses your music files OR integrated with iTunes, which uses iTunes windows but Audirvan+ audio handing.

          If all of your music is low bit rate, neither of these software are worth it as far as sound quality. They are designed to play CD quality or better to their full potential.

          Both have iOS apps for remote control only.
          Neither have iOS players.
          Either can be used on a home system while leaving iTunes to handle your portable music.

          Tidal as a stand-alone subscription is pretty good. As far as comparing it’s depth to Apple’s would be hard, but the quality is very good.
          Keep in mind there are two version; regular for $10 and HiFi for $20.
          I use the HiFI.
          Tidal DOES have an iOS app that either streams or stores music for offline playing. I like it, and it even works with my sync car software.

          Roon is more expensive, but it really is that good, especially with Tidal integration.
          Audirvana+might have a little better sound quality, but unless your system is really good (and I have no reason to think it isn’t) then you might not notice the difference.

          They all have free trials.
          (If you try Roon, be sure to choose to ‘watch’ you files, NOT ‘organize’)

          BTW, if you have no Hires files and want to see what all this nonsense is about, here are some free classical songs.

          I recommend Tchaikovsky’s ‘Souvenir, Part2’
          Schubert’s ‘Quartet 14 in D minor’ and
          Vivaldi’s ‘Belleza Crudel’.

          On second thought, you might want to just ignore all of this unless you are willing to get sucked in to it’s great sound….

  5. I am a subscriber and I’ve never used it. I guess I have used it but only by accident. Actually, the whole music program has hit a solid brick wall. It just is importable to use to do the things you want. I am at a loss as to how to “buy” (old idea perhaps) a track or CD using my iPhone. It’s a tiny bit better using the OS X app but just barely.

    Fix it and it might be better or at least usable. But, it’s lost the Apple “just works” mojo.

    1. As “importable” as it may seem, it is actually quite easy to get songs. You just don’t need to buy them anymore.
      You can still buy them. Find a song in You or New. There is a set of dots to the right … Click on that and it will take you to the store.
      Kind of pointless to buy songs if you are using the subscription service. Better to like the songs or heart them or set as favorites. Then if you decide to cancel the subscription you can go through the list of liked songs and buy them.

  6. It’s simple: it’s for a subset of customers, not everyone. Just the same way iTunes Match is. iTunes Match is my fit, Apple Music is not. Others are the opposite, and others still are neither. Apple of all people should know this.

  7. I thing that the problem isn’t Apple Music – it’s really a good service. I think the problem is that is hidden into iTunes, a overcrowded and impossible app. Apple should have separated the categories into different and optimized apps.

    1. The only reason why I subscribed to Apple Music instead of Spotify is because it is integrated into one music experience. I’d hate to have one playlist for my music and another app for playlists in Apple Music.

  8. The short answer is, the Apple music service is EXCELLENT – however the Apple music app that is required to use the service is an absolute train wreck and piss poor at best. It’s an embarrassing app with an embarrassing navigation flow and quite a few embarrassing bugs for a company that prides itself in making software that is supposed to be ‘better than the other guys’. Once the bugs and horrible app hit the internet from unhappy customers then it became viral and now fixated in many peoples mind that Apple Music sucks. They need to overcome this, and to do that they need to ‘re-launch’ it by way of relaunching a completely overhauled app that is very intentional with it’s design with both the UI and UX, is easily understood, and is as bug free as possible. The Apple Music team is doing a great job – the software team responsible for making the software that accesses Apple Music need a swift kick in the pants and need to get get their butts in gear and focus.

    1. Absolutely spot on! Very true. It is the software of Apple Music that is a failure. Beats 1 is great, the curated suggestions are awesome. But the App is just abysmal.

  9. Yes, Apple Music is an utter failure. And I say that as a PAYING customer. I just dont understand this software. I am constantly fighting it. For reasons that I simply dont understand, music that I save for offline use always disappears. I try to play music, and it’s not there. I have hundreds upon hundreds of albums on my iPhone, but none are playable. Some with cellular data usage and some not, no matter what.

    The software is just horrific. It is Microsoftian. It is so un-Apple like.

    Apple Music does NOT just work.

    A crying shame.

    1. I’m not saying you’re wrong, but NONE of my offline albums have disappeared or are unplayable on my iPhone. I have dozens and they all work. Not sure how your setup is different than mine.

    2. I really tried to like the software but after the 3 month trial I decided not to continue. I too had problems with music disappearing. The software as it is pegged into iTunes is a confusing mess. I hope they get the software part sorted out but I’m not returning until they do.

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