Apple Music Sounds Promising; But Big Questions Remain


Are Downloaders Ready to Become Streamers?

Drake, right, high-fives Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of internet software and services, during the launch of Apple Music on Monday.
Jeff Chiu/The Associated Press

Drake, right, high-fives Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of internet software and services, during the launch of Apple Music on Monday.


By: Tech Reporter, Toronto Star Mon Jun 08 2015

With Apple Music’s launch details finally unveiled Monday, we will see if the company can convert music consumers from downloaders into streamers.

At the company’s annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference, the Apple Music announcement was saved for last in the keynote presentation.

From the first glance of the service during the speech, Apple Music will feature personalized recommendations, curated playlists and streaming access to Apple’s huge library of music, all for a monthly subscription fee. Those things are familiar to most people who have used a streaming music service such as Spotify, Rdio or Deezer.

Where Apple differs is in the launch of Beats 1, a new global radio station helmed by former BBC deejay and tastemaker Zane Lowe, which is the company’s replacement for the free, ad-supported level that most streaming services offer, with limited access to genre-based playlists.

There is also a Connect, an in-app hub where artists can share photos, lyrics, and remixes, and speak to fans. The question is whether Connect will become just another place that collects artists’ social media feeds, or will actually be something different and worthwhile.

Apple’s strength comes from its ecosystem — it already has most people’s credit card information, and users are comfortable with purchasing apps and songs from the company. And Apple will find ways to integrate the service within its phones, making the service really easy to use.

Then there is the introductory offer. Most services offer a one-month free trial period before you buy for their premium, paid products. Apple Music is starting to launch around the world on June 30 with a three-month free trial, although it is unclear if Canada will be part of that initial launch.

In the U.S., the service will cost $9.99 a month for a single-user plan, and the company will offer a family plan for up to six users at $14.99 a month, much cheaper than what other streaming companies offer for family of shared-usage plans. (Canadian pricing will not be available until closer to launch here.)

There remains much to be seen about Apple Music. Will it work as well as the established competition? Can Apple convince users to sign up for monthly subscriptions, which has been difficult for all streaming music players so far? And how can it compete with all of the music that’s already available for free online, in places such as YouTube as well as competing apps such as Songza.

Apple Music looks like a robust, competitive offering, and it is important that a company like Apple is trying to shift user habits to streaming. The question remains: are customers willing to make that shift?



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