Rethinking Apple Music’s Flop Status


apple music flop

Back in September, all facts pointed toward Apple’s new initiative to take back the music industry being a major flop. With the confusing departure of Ian Rogers and high expectations for Apple in general, it pushed one anyoption writer to wonder whether Apple Music had a chance.

Numbers don’t lie

In late October, Apple chief executive Tim Cook announced some numbers on Apple Music: the subscription service has 15 million users at the moment, with 6.5 million of them paying users (the others are still in the 3-month trial).

With the company typically keeping things like this close to the vest, it makes you wonder why they decided to make this announcement. It may be that high expectations make people nervous when they’re not getting hard facts. Or it could just be that Cook wanted to put investors at ease. Either way, the numbers were impressive and here’s why:

  • It took Spotify around two years before it reached 10 million users, 2.5 million of which were paid subscribers. Conversely, it took Apple Music just four months to reach 15 million users and 6.5 paying subscribers.
  • Spotify currently has more than 75 million active users and 20 million paying subscribers, meaning Apple already has a third as many paying users.

Okay, okay. In a vacuum, all those numbers are great. But while numbers don’t lie, they also don’t tell the whole story.

The rest of the story

Before we start claiming Apple Music as a success, there are some things to take into consideration.

First of all, unlike Spotify, Apple Music doesn’t have a free option. While it’s impossible to say how long it takes for a Spotify user to start paying for the service, the fact that the streaming service does offer a free version makes it much more appealing to users than Apple Music, which gives you nothing after the three-month trial.

Another thing to consider is that Apple Music is a laggard, not the trailblazer. If you determine its success based on the early success of a service that started seven years ago, you’re not getting an “apples to apples” comparison. After all, considering the first generation iPhone’s sales, several lesser smartphones have performed better.

The last thing to think about is Apple’s sheer reach. Spotify didn’t have that option when it first started its service and, frankly, it still doesn’t. With that in mind, it’s really difficult to say whether or not Apple Music is a good move.

It’s still too early

In my opinion, we’re still months, maybe years, away from knowing whether or not Apple Music is a flop. After all, it’s only been around for a few months. Competitors Spotify and Pandora are certainly looking to respond with improved service and they better, because Apple’s existing user base and the seamless integration it has in the Apple iOS doesn’t help their case. Also consider that Apple recently launched an Apple Music app for Android, making it only the third app Apple has created for the rival operating system.

In other words, no one’s dead yet. Things are just starting to heat up.