Metal Tech

Apple Music

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AppleI’d like to start this article off with “It’s a non-starter,” the way I would’ve if I’d even bothered to write about the forgettable, ultimate non-starter that was Tidal. But I’m not completely sure.

First, the quick points:

  • It’ll cost $9.99/month for all-you-can-eat streaming
  • There will be no free tier (unlike Spotify), although everyone will be offered a free three-month subscription upon launch on June 30th
  • There will be a $14.99/month family plan for up to 6 users
  • It will be available on Android devices
  • The Beats “curated content” element will rear its head with “Apple Music Radio.” The flagship station will be “Beats 1,” a 24-hour streaming station with some famous DJs, and there will be other curated stations too.

Spotify has the name recognition. Rdio, MOG and others made similar offerings — some before Spotify, some better than Spotify — but no one could crush the buzz that Spotify had already generated, first in Europe then in the U.S.

But Apple’s got name recognition too. It’s also got hundreds of millions of users that will automatically have this software downloaded onto their devices with the next iOS update. And legions of devoted followers who will do anything Apple says.

Is the cult of Apple — and the sheer magnitude of their built-in user base — enough to overcome Spotify’s market dominance?

Or will people stick with what they know and like?

History suggests that they’ll stick with what’s already working unless there’s a major technological advantage or game-changer, which there isn’t here. There can only be one dominant player in any given space: no e-commerce retailer is going to upend Amazon, no search engine will challenge Google, and no social network is going to cut into Facebook’s audience, Ello be damned. Spotify is now firmly entrenched in the zeitgeist, even if their 15 million paid user base (and 60+ million total) is small in comparison.

But that’s exactly it: hundreds of millions is a lot. I suspect plenty of folks will give the service a shot during the free three-month trial, and many might even like it, but usership will drop off a cliff once the free pass runs out.

Perhaps Apple Music will do well with the over-50 set who just sign up for whatever’s in front of them.

We’ll find out June 30th.

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