For months (years) we'd been hearing that Apple was ready to launch it's "Spotify killer". But, will Apple Music be a big threat to Spotify, Pandora and other streaming services?
Apple has proven that it can sell music. Before iTunes, digital music was the wild west, fraught with piracy and viruses. Kids and tech-savvy adults figured out how to download music, while the rest of the world barely could figure out how to rip a CD. Along came iTunes, creating a safe and user friendly marketplace for buying music. Yet, 14 years and numerous tries later, Apple hasn't shown the ability to deliver a compelling music service. Remember when Apple launched Genius as the "Pandora Killer"? Yeah right.
It's usually a safe bet that anything billed as a [ ] killer will fail to deliver on that promise. Remember the Blackberry Playbook, the "iPad killer"? Or for those in fintech, the Reuters 2000 terminal aka "Bloomberg killer". I love Slack, but it's not really an email killer. And Apple Music won't be a Spotify Killer. In fact, it could be a Spotify Accelerator.
- Grow the audience for streaming music beyond the tech-savvy market
- Simplify the concept - Apple didn't use the word "streaming" once. It was all about having all the music in one place.
- Enroll millions of users into Apple Music trials, some of whom will cancel after the 3-month free period ends, instead adopting free versions of Spotify or Pandora.
The one way in which Apple Music could have truly killed Spotify would have been if the rumored deals with the record labels came to fruition, eliminating the free version of Spotify and other competitors. But there's no way that would have passed antitrust muster.
So now, Apple Music becomes YASMS (yet another streaming music service). Bob Lefsetz said it best:
in order to succeed you’ve got to deliver something better, bring in those who were disinterested or scared to participate previously, and there’s nothing in Apple Music that isn’t widely available elsewhere, including its social network and playlists.
When you're the little guy, driving public awareness is tough. Advertising is expensive and word-of-mouth only gets you so far. Despite those challenges, Spotify has grown to 75 million active users, with 20 million of them paying. Apple Music will help to make subscription-based streaming music mainstream. Think of it as your mother's streaming music service. And as streaming becomes more mainstream, that means more users for Spotify.