Is Apple Music a thing ?
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Digital Distribution (MBET 207–1)
26 October 2017
In the recent years, there has been a spike in the use of digital media. One of the biggest changes to have hit the market is the ability to digitally stream an album to a computer or a mobile device. This has led there to be an increase of music stimulation in a community that once did not value music at all. What had happened was that there was a dip in the social normality of music consumption through physical stores and merchandise. This lead to a community that got used to receiving music from little to no value whatsoever. It was not until the rise of iTunes that there was an increase in value in music. People reacted in awe when they labeled the price of an individual song and it was almost foreign to them to have to pay for music. After that, people started to complain that they did not want to own the songs, they want to just listen to it. At that point in time the idea of streaming became a reality. In 2001, Apple released the iPod, and since it really popularized the commonality of the portable MP3 player. The demand for music through digital means was getting higher and higher due to the fact of the new found portability of smartphones and downloading music to mp3 players or iPods. The world would slowly start weeding out the dependency on physical music like cd, cassettes or vinyls. One of the most popular Digital Streaming Platform (DSP) is Spotify and right after that is Apple Music. The one DSP that does not get talked about often is Apple Music, since it is living in the shadows of Spotify. Apple Music has been slowly establishing itself as a threat to spotify and other streaming services.
On June 30th 2015, Apple Music was released to the public in over 100 countries. The platform has around 40 million songs in its library, which is a very big library compared to some other DSPs. The big library numbers made it a very attractive option for new users to adapt due to just the sheer amount of songs that it had at launch. Apple Music also offers radio options with Beat 1 included into the platform. One of the biggest things that this platform has to offer is the integration into the iPhones and other Apple products. “There’s another area where Apple Music has the leg up on its competition: integration of the iTunes library. Any music you’ve got — whether previously purchased via the iTunes Store, ripped from a physical CD, or uploaded to iTunes Match — will appear in your Apple Music library, giving you the option to freely browse your own music alongside Apple’s standard catalog” (Digital Trends Staff). Apple Music is directly integrated into the music player app of all Apple products, making it easier for people to enjoy the music they are provided with in the service as well as having the user’s own libraries intertwined with the massive online library of Apple Music itself. Apple Music allows the user to sideload songs for offline listening into the same app itself. It really blurs the line between our music and their music, but it makes it one single fluid experience for the user.
Apple Music offers a three month trial period which allows the user to really try out the DSP before settling down with it and making it a choice. After the three month trial period, apple music costs $9.99 for an individual user, and $4.99 for a college student and $14.99 for a family membership which supports up to 6 people. “Apple Music is considered to be in a ‘sweet spot’ on the chart because of its streaming rate, providing 13.35 percent of all streaming revenue in the sample with 7.18 percent of the streaming quantity total” (Malcolm Owen). Apple is regarded to be one of the only DSPs that has a “fair” payout to their artists, they give the artists a higher percentage of the money they made in comparison to other services like Spotify. This makes people that are conscious about how the artists are being treated in the industry choose a DSP that allows them to rest easy with the knowledge that their artists are making more of the hard earned money they deserve.
There are other DSP’s that allow people to reach their audience, but also not the the point that Apple music or Spotify has them. Apple music is different in the way that they actually pay their artists more than the other DSPs and most of it is based off of how people react to the streams and number of people. Apple Music has one of the longest free trial periods compared to the competition, it allows the users to make sure they want to fully invest in their music in apple music. Apple music also has more music on their service than spotify has, as well as support for the Apple TV. Spotify would be harder to promote as a singular device thing, but apple music branded itself with the iPhones and it allowed people to establish themselves with a brand and a service one to one. Another DSP is soundcloud, it is a self established online music in which users can create their own music admin. Soundcloud does not really let you do much more but it allows the users to just listen to artists that are trying to be discovered rather than trying to get market plays. Soundcloud offers a premium version but there is not really much need for it, someone who does not focus completely on SoundCloud will not see the reason on why they should pay money for that service. In contrast to Apple Music, there is not much that a common streamer could rely on for them to put the money into places like SoundCloud because the reason that SoundCloud is mostly used is to share and support anyone who wants to try getting out there without the commitment of a major distributor. Same thing goes for Bandcamp, the main attraction to those types of websites is that they are just a platform where smaller artist can upload their music and share it with their fans, The paid version of bandcamp provides more benefits if the intention is to use the site to upload and promote music. Another DSP is Google Play Music, which is the equivalent of Apple Music but on android devices. There are a lot of features that are not present in Google Play, especially the big library that Apple Music has access to. “As clunky and complex as it is, iTunes does offer cool features like smart playlists, unlike the Google Play Music web app (at least not natively). If you want to queue up all the songs you haven’t heard in a month, or all the five-star tracks you’ve got from the 80s, then Apple Music is the service for you.”(David Neild). As stated, Apple Musics integration to iTunes brings perks to the service that are not available to other big DSPs like Google Play. People who are within the Apple community, that own Macbooks and iPhones as well as almost every other Apple product, are attracted to one key feature of Apple in general, and it is the compatibility between the devices. Apple makes it easy to have everything on more than one device while making the connection between them makes it easy for one to start a piece of work on one device and end it on another. The fact that Apple Music is part of the user interface of the devices, it makes it an integral part of the whole “Apple experience”, allowing people to feel like everything including all of their music on this platform to be shared across the board on all of their individual devices due to the virtually seamless transitions from device to device.
In a group of 10 college students , their music consumption habits varied drastically. The survey reached out to 38 students in different parts of the United States and it brought in some surprising facts about music consumption, and all it was was just a projection of the smaller survey with 10 people but with more accurate percentages. The largest major of people that answered the survey were people in the MBET program at University of the Arts, this led to the conclusion that people that took the survey had an idea of what goes on behind the scenes of the DSPs and what pros and cons each one of them has. The people who were not music majors or the ones that were too busy to care about things like this really skewed the results on what was popular. Mostly everyone across the board got new music through word of mouth. People’s friends in a college environment tend to share music in person.
People also tend to go for playlists made by their friends and a decent percentage a little bit over a third of the people use curated playlists made by the DSPs themselves (Ex. Spotify Top 10, Apple Music Today’s Hits). A big thing to notice is that people chose different social media as their preferred social medias.
The biggest one voted on was Instagram voted at a 50 percent of all of the ones that were asked of in the survey. Facebook came into second place and twitter and Snapchat were tied for third. People have started using social media that feels a lot more organic for the user. Some said that they preferred some because they felt like if they followed an artist it was more intimate because they could see part of their lives and almost felt as if they were part of their lives just by them reaching out like that on those platforms. People use the social media that they feel is catered the most to their needs on communication to the people they wish to talk to.
Apple Music is one of the top DSPs in current time, but Spotify still reigns supreme. In the survey, most (2/3rds) of the people who participated used Spotify. The reasons being that there was a sense of community within the userbase. Spotify provides the user a feed on what their friends and other people around them are listening to so that one can click and discover new music. Next, Apple Music and Youtube were tied for second place. Apple Music is seen as a runner up to Spotify due to the sheer number of people who have made it into a culture. The people who responded to the surveys made it a point to state that Apple Music is great if you already know what you are going to be listening to. People who used Apple Music said that sharing music made it easier, given the ability to share full albums to anyone of your contacts through iMessage, using Wifi or LTE to quickly and nicely send out to another person with an Apple device.
Overall, Apple Music is a streaming service that people that use are happy with what they are receiving. The response to the survey basically back up the idea that people who are already using a service are less likely to try new ones. People who have Apple Products consider Apple Music purely to keep the brand. People go to spotify because it feels much more connected with the social aspect. Apple Music is one of the only DSPs that is directly integrated into the device, and it also allows it to be used on iTunes, which is available throughout many platforms (PC, MacOS), as well as in apps like the Apple Music app on the Android Market. This will influence how the market works on the integration of the DSPs into devices like computers and smart devices. By keeping everything into a single app that will house both the user’s library and the vast collection of music of the DSP, it will unite the apps and cause more of an integration between them. Apple Music came out and has been providing things with a very aggressive marketing strategy for the consumers to start switching over from a larger more established DSP like Spotify. They provide a three month trial period and they have a higher payout to the artists. Things that people have, more or less, started to notice is that the artist are not getting the money they deserve via streaming, and it does make a difference and it will push other DSPs to start being fair with their payment of their artist. Apple Music provides a very integrated interface for a target audience and they have been trying out new things that will make them stand out.