Two things Apple Music could do to differentiate
I subscribe to Apple Music, but I’m not that enthusiastic about it. The Siri integration, ‘For You’ playlists, and lack of garbage knock-off tracks make it marginally more worthwhile to me over Spotify. Part of the problem is its confusing UI and general bugginess, but the other problem is that it just isn’t significantly different or better than competing services, either for users or artists putting their content on the service.
My first idea is related to the Apple Music feature, ‘Connect’. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t find the feature very compelling. There’s not that much to interact with and it just doesn’t have a lot of activity. The concept of following your favorite artists makes sense, but when Apple’s music editors are posting playlists there, it confuses the product. Should I look for playlists in ‘Connect’ or ‘For You’? Also, when an artist has Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Soundcloud to contend with in order to reach their audience, why bother with Connect? Surely each of those services have more active users than Connect (just a guess).
But what if anyone could create a “radio station” (public playlists with commentary) on Apple Music? Anyone with an iPhone could tap into Apple’s vast music library to create playlists and, with the microphone on their iPhone, record commentary tracks that play in-line with the music. I could easily see following people, not just Apple’s experts, who have tastes that align with my own. It would be a great way to find off-beat, niche playlists, such as ‘Classic scores from 80’s Schwarzenegger flicks’, or ‘Music to practice calligraphy by’. Does anyone else find this concept compelling?
The other thing Apple, and really only Apple could do is eliminate the middle-man (aka, the label) with artists. Create an end-to-end set of tools and services specifically for artists that let them record, mix, produce and publish directly to Apple Music. I’m sure they’d have to allow these tools to be used to create music for other services to avoid anti-trust issues, but I’m sure there’s some part of the process they could nail down to be exclusive to Apple Music, even if it’s just making it so simple & seamless — so Apple-like, that artists would flock to Apple, especially if that meant they would get more money per-stream than on Spotify and other services.
Of course, this is just armchair commentary from someone who knows next to nothing about the music biz. I’m sure Apple has probably considered these things and probably has reasons as to why they haven’t done either. It would no doubt be an incredibly complex challenge, especially to fundamentally change the way music is published, but those are my two ideas. A interactive feature for users and a set of tools and incentives for artists.