Monday, June 8, 2015

Apple Music wants to do for music what App Store did for developers

Apple's WWDC 2015 keynote was filled with stuff (like the new OS X El Capitan, and iOS 9, and watch OS 2) but as I'm just a single person that can only do so much, I'll focus on the much awaited music streaming service. An announcement Apple though was awarded the iconic "one more thing...", and there was: Apple Music.

Considering the relationship Apple has with music, a music streaming service was long overdue. For each and every day Apple waited, Spotify gained a few more (happy) subscribers, and there are no shortage of other music streaming services. Apple is late to the game, but hopes to quickly climb to the top of the billboard.

Apple Music is a mix of music streaming service that allows you to hear whatever you want, music downloads for offline listening, internet radio, and also a social platform for artists to connect with their fans (think Ping 2.0). There really isn't anything particularly new or innovative with Apple's music service, other than the fact that it also looks good, and is baked in into the system. You can ask Siri to play (nearly) any music you want and it will do that, even if you say to play the song from a movie. If you look at Spotify's dynamic tracks than can keep up with your running pace, and it's intelligent music management that does without the classical "music genres", there's a lot more innovation coming from Sweden than Cupertino.

But, it would be a mistake to dismiss Apple Music based on that.

Apple Music will also be a way for younger artists to reach the world, in a way similar to those unknown developers that launch an app that goes viral. Apple wants to lure new artists in with that same dream, and it's bound to happen sooner or later: for an artist to become a hit because it went viral on Apple Music. I just don't know if the music labels will like to become obsolete a bit faster than they expected... But hey, here in Portugal the "Portuguese Artist's Association" is about to receive a tax over any and all digital memory device - be it an hard drive or smartphone - because of the possibility you might use that memory to store a copy of some music you had already legally bought! That's a law that was vetoed by the President, but the government passed anyway.
So... don't be surprised for record labels to resort to something similar, asking for a tax for the money they aren't making because of these dreaded streaming services (which, in fact pay them anyway for the music rights.)

But, it was all up to the price. There had been rumors that Apple wanted to charge an extra low monthly subscription, but labels didn't go for it. So, the price is the usual $9.99/month; but there's a slight catch - there's a family plan that costs only $14.99 for families of up to 6 people! Considering there's no shortage of families, Apple Music does become highly coveted and is sure to force other streaming services to adjust their prices (Spotify also has a family plan, but is more expensive: $14.99 for 2 people; $29.99 for 5 people.)

Apple Music will launch on June 30 in over 100 countries, and will also be available for Windows... and Android!

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