Apple waited too long to get into music streaming or something

“When it comes to music streaming, it is looking like Apple waited too long to get into the game,” Micah Singleton writes for The Verge. “As of October, Apple Music has 6.5 million paid users, which is a great number for paying subscribers for such a young service. But Apple Music’s biggest problem is and will continue to be that millions and millions of people stream music for free from other services, and have little incentive to switch to a paid music service.”

“Let’s lay out just how large the head start its competitors have. Apple Music is essentially in fourth place, miles behind Pandora, Spotify, and YouTube, and all the companies ahead of Apple are only getting bigger and better,” Singleton writes. “Pandora, which has 78 million active users, just bought Rdio and has plans to launch an on-demand service late next year, giving its users an in-house option and push it into direct competition with Apple Music. Spotify announced it had 75 million users in June, and expects to reach 100 million users by the end of the month. YouTube — which is easily the largest music streaming service — just launched a standalone YouTube Music app to make it easier to stream audio content.”

Singleton writes, “Even if Apple somehow manages to grow its user base ten times over, it’s still only at 65 million users, and it’s not at all clear that would slow down growth from Spotify and YouTube.”

MacDailyNews Take: No, Apple did not wait too long to get into music streaming.

Comparing free services to Apple Music is disingenuous. It’s Apple’s and oranges. When you compare Apple’s to apples, you’ll see that 6.5 million paying members (it’s likely significantly more now, BTW) is 2nd only to Spotify’s 20 million. Apple Music is only 5 months old. Spotify is 9 years old. In which universe is garnering 32.5% of the market leader’s total paying customers in 4.63% of the time considered “late?” Puleeze. Spare us the B.S., Micah.

Artists and labels don’t like the free tiers. They routinely complain that they aren’t getting paid properly. CarPlay is just now arriving in vehicles where much music consumption occurs and, oh-by-the-way, Apple Music is front and center on CarPlay. And all the while, Apple is selling hundreds of millions of devices with Apple Music pre-loaded per year while Spotify sells none. Suffice to say, there’s much to shake out.

So, no, Apple did not “wait too long to get into music streaming.”

Okay, it’s Dichotomy Time! Micah now makes an about-face from hit-whoring nonsense into actually making perfect sense:

“After five months, Apple Music on iOS is still filled with bugs. Using the service on the desktop isn’t any better, as you have to once again deal with iTunes on a daily basis like this is 2008,” Singleton writes. “Apple Music also needs a standalone desktop app far, far removed iTunes, one of the least beloved pieces of software Apple has created.”

“Earlier this year, Apple replaced iPhoto and Aperture with Photos for OS X, which has been a step up for most users. It should do the same for iTunes and build a new Music app for the desktop from the ground up,” Singleton writes. “And Apple can’t wait until WWDC every June to make significant improvements to Apple Music. It should move to a more frequent update schedule to keep people engaged in the service.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Agreed. iTunes with Apple Music bolted onto it is really an abysmal, Microsoftian experience.

One pet peeve of many (fix this, Apple): in iTunes Store, you can see the popularity of each track. This helps you quickly sample new albums. You start with the most popular tracks when deciding if you like the new album. Switch over to “Apple Music” — which, by the way, means clicking not “Apple Music,” but the rather incongruously-named “New” — and check out an album there: No popularity is available. Have fun flying blind, iTunes users! Obviously, Apple knows how many times each track has been streamed. Display that as “popularity” (or if it’s such a big secret, use iTunes Store’s “popularity” data in Apple Music, at least). It’ll provide the exact same guidance for users. Maddening, thoughtless, sloppy, un-Apple-like discrepancies like this abound in the iTunes/Apple Music experience.

Apple, especially under Steve Jobs, has shown a great and admirable willingness to cannibalize themselves. They obliterated their iPod business with the iPhone, for one example. But, when it comes to iTunes, they seem paralyzed by fear of change. Apple paralyzed by fear is not a pretty thing and it doesn’t yield pretty things. It yields hot messes like iTunes.

iTunes screams to be broken up into separate, streamlined apps. It’s been screaming that for years. But Apple seems to be scared silly to do so — perhaps 800+ million credit cards have something to do with it — so they’ve tinkered around the edges, making questionable tweaks here and there and bolting on even more bloat.

Grow a pair, Apple, and do what needs to be done already.MacDailyNews Take, July 17, 2015

Should iTunes be split into 16 different apps? – October 20, 2015
The tragedy of iTunes: Nothing ‘just works’ – July 28, 2015
Dear Apple, please go thermonuclear on iTunes – July 28, 2015
Marco Arment: iTunes is a toxic hellstew – July 27, 2015
Jim Dalrymple: I got (most of) my music back; Apple working to fix Apple Music issues shortly – July 26, 2015
Jim Dalrymple: Apple Music is a nightmare, and I’m done with it – July 23, 2015
Apple’s iTunes: Whatever happened to ‘It Just Works? – July 17, 2015
The iTunes Report: Still a mess – July 14, 2015
Apple releases iTunes 12.2.1, fixes iTunes Match issues – July 13, 2015
Apple Music, both on iOS and OS X, is an embarrassing and confusing mess – July 10, 2015
iTunes 12.2 is mangling network-shared libraries – July 6, 2015
Serious iTunes Match issues for some users ahead of Apple Music launch – June 26, 2015
Open letter to Tim Cook: Apple needs to do better – January 5, 2015


  1. From my POV: I don’t get the music streaming thing whereby you stop paying, you lose all your music. If other people like it, fine with me. If it works out for Apple, fine with me. But making a BFD about Apple getting into it ‘late’? I don’t care.

    1. No different than Netflix. I subscribe to both. I probably use Apple music more though.

      I’ve also got a huge collection of music I own. If I had to do it all over again, I’d take the $5000+ I’ve spent on CDs and subscribe to Apple Music for 41 years.

  2. Great summary of the clusterf*%k that is Apple Music. Its weird fusion to iTunes does remind me more of a Microsoft Frankenstein than the high standards I’m used to from Apple. If anything Apple came into the game too early with an unfinished, user unfriendly experience. Suffice to say that Beats Music had a better UI than Apple Music. It should have been rebranded, but remained largely the same. Until Apple differentiates itself dramatically from Spotify, it’ll remain in 2nd. With all the money they have, lowering the price by even $1 per month would be significant.

  3. -read while enjoying Bill Evans ‘At the Village Vanguard’ via Tidal HiFi, which has yet to screw up my library as Apple Music did.

    Tonight: another STP marathon like last night’s…maybe louder.
    RIP Scott.

  4. As for Streaming music, the only question to ask – how much money is SPOTIFY making? ZERO. Humm, can Apple afford a business that breaks even? Humm, it’s not like Apple has a bilion dollars laying around Tim Cooks office, oh wait – THEY DO.

  5. iTunes has always been junk. Worst interface I have ever come across. So adding Apple Music has just made something bad even worse. No surprise there.
    And streaming music? pointless unless it’s lossless. Why pay for crappy lossy music?

    1. That’s pretty harsh. Up until iTunes 10, there wasn’t really a better program available to manage a personal collection of music.

      And while I hated the Microsoftian choices to add more and more cluttered functionality into it, the interface used to make sense. The sidebar showed the user where everything was, and it wasn’t hard to turn off functions one didn’t want.

      Unfortunately iTunes 11 started down the road to iCloud hell, and iTunes 12 completely removed the logical interface that worked for people who do not rent their media.

      It’s long overdue for Apple to break iTunes into separate apps for separate functions. Those who rent media should have their own app. Those who need to manage their own libraries LOCALLY deserve a cleaner interface void of iTunes Store, Apple Music, iCloud, Match, and the rest of the crappy services that Apple has added in the last few years.

      But then, i was really happy when plugging in an iPod with a real live cable resulted in a quick, efficient, reliable sync. Remember those good old days?

      1. I should add that almost all of my music was purchased on discs and ripped in Apple Lossless.

        Not sure if there’s any advantage of FLAC over ALAC, but the two formats are easily converted into each other. Not that Apple would ever explain that to anyone…

        1. That’s a fair comment about the earlier , however my experience of iTunes has not been a good one. I no longer use my iPod Classic as the program has just become bloatware in my eyes. It has wiped my iPod a few times because the default settings have changed after an update. I am still at a loss to understand why. So instead I arrange my music files myself along with using a good ID tag program, and I prefer to drag and drop. I rip my CDs as lossless, usually to flac format as they play in my car off a memory stick with no issue. There is a slight difference between flac and alac, with flac being preferred by audiophiles as it is on par with the little used and likely to be ditched WMA pro. Indeed Microsoft have now added native support for flac in their Groove Music app, and about time too. We just need Apple to do so but hell will freeze over first methinks.I shouldn’t need to have to convert flac files to alac and take up more storage space just because Apple wont support the codec. Those on here saying they’d ditch their CDs for Apple Music need to look at the fact that their CDs are copies of the original masters, whereas most streamed music services are lossy, so has clipping of high and low range. If you have a good sound system you can tell the difference. The answer I to subscribe to a more expensive lossless provider to give you with CD quality audio streaming.

  6. I must admit on my iPad I am totally confused. I go to Shazam and it has the option listen to and download on iTunes. Yet when I click that it takes me to a place where as soon as I try to play a sample (as formally in iTunes) it simply comes up with ‘take a 3 month trial’ in Apple Music. When I discard or decline I am left unable to play any sample on a page that is useless to me. In what way is this not totally Microsoftian, frustrating and annoying to the user. So now if I find something in Shazam I have to copy and paste or remember the name and manually open the iTunes Store App to paste and/or search for it. This is not Apple as I remember it this is the non Apple World that I left to move to Apple back in the 80s. So no they won’t get me involved in Apple Music in any way if this is an example of the pathetic interface/system employed. Its weird enough that my Apple music and iTunes store are separate on my iPad yet combined together in iTunes on my Mac without adding totally mystifying further complexity to the mix.

  7. I’m turning 50 next year, and have a vast musical memory. If someone had told me when I was a teenager: “you can have EVERY album in this record store for $10 per month” my head would’ve exploded. I’m grateful for Apple Music and consider it the deal of the (half) century.

  8. I fail to understand why so many people want iTunes split up. I think of it as a media store. They have different sections that sell music, tv shows, movies… It’s like saying Walmart should be split into hundreds of small independent stores. I don’t want more apps on my phone!!! #lessapps.

  9. Apple need to at least integrate some gesture control in Music within iTunes. Touch gestures from Trackpad or Magic Mouse work in the iTunes store (mostly trackpad work, mouse is a bit hit and miss) but no gestures work in Music element. You have to physically move the pointer and click an arrow to navigate back and forth . . .so 20th Century once you’ve become used to using touch gestures 🙁

  10. The biggest difference between Apple and its competing music services is that Apple Music is not Apple’s primary business. Even if Apple Music never hits first place, there are plenty of other income streams to keep Apple strong.

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