Apple Music-Day Three

1. It’s about the money.

Never lose sight of this. Apple Music will only be a success if ninety days in, a great proportion of those kicking the tires pay to subscribe. And this is doubtful. Because most people are cheap and the only way you can compete with free is to provide a service you can’t get elsewhere, that is so good people clamor to pay for it. As long as music is free on YouTube, as long as Spotify has a free tier, Apple Music is screwed.

2. All the buzz is about the radio station.

Conversation is about Beats 1, not the on demand streaming service. And this is death for Apple, because Beats 1 may be good for the music industry, it might break records, but it does not generate cash, it does not help Apple’s bottom line. And if you don’t think that’s all Apple cares about, you’ve never sat in on an earnings call, you’ve never been the victim of a Carl Icahn or Daniel Loeb attack.

3. No explanation.

We had a WWDC introduction, but no advertising campaign illustrating what Apple Music is and why we need it. To assume the public knows is to assume they’re aware you can synch tracks to the handset such that no cellular bandwidth costs are involved. Most of the public still doesn’t know what on demand streaming is. It’s dubious whether most of the PRESS knows what on demand streaming is. In the wake of the Apple Music launch, numerous publications have posited the question whether the public needs streaming music, each and every one of these has included Pandora as an option. Yes, you stream Pandora, but Pandora is like the school cafeteria whereas on demand streaming is like a grocery store. Everybody hates the cafeteria, you get limited choice at best and then endless repeats, whereas the supermarket lets you purchase whatever you want. Furthermore, in music, you don’t have to cook it! But you do have to find it.

4. No online tutorial.

You’re on your own, even though you’re paying. What is this, video games?

That’s right, video games come with no instructions, no manual, you’re supposed to figure it out by yourself. Many do, a lot don’t. Which is why video games have a wall around them, you’re either a gamer or you’re not. And profits have been hurt by the move to mobile gaming, which is not only cheaper, but usually less complicated. Apple Music is a maze you can’t get out of, that most people don’t want to get into!

5. Wrong target.

The scuttlebutt is whether Apple will beat Spotify. That’s like asking if the Brewers will beat the Rockies. Only the hardest core will care. So far the story is too inside baseball. Those not already paying attention won’t.

6. Steep learning curve.

If you can use all the elements of Apple Music, you work there.

7. Lack of functionality.

You can’t import Spotify playlists, even though Spotify allowed you to import your iTunes library upon launch. You’ve got to take a big tent approach, you’ve got to satiate the talkers.

Apple Music will win or lose on buzz.

Wait a second, as I established above, it can’t win, it’s gonna close everybody out of their free account after ninety days, what a disaster. But to the degree it wants traction it’s got to get everybody talking about Apple Music, the on demand streaming service, the one people pay for. Hell, the company can’t even leverage the artists! There’s no “I Want My Apple Music” campaign. And, Beats 1 is too cliquey, a club that not only most people feel left out of, but most acts. If you didn’t get an invitation to host a show are you really gonna talk up the service? Fans respond most to acts, but they’re beholden to their wallets.

So we’ve got a worldwide radio station, whoopee! As one online commentator wrote, isn’t that what internet radio is, haven’t we had that for eons? The only difference is we’re supposed to believe in Zane Lowe, and most people have never heard of the dude until just recently.

We live in a customizable world. Apple Music on demand streaming allows this. But it’s not so easy to use and the company is mum on how to use it.

Is this any way to run a business?



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What's been said:

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  1. DeDude commented on Jul 5

    Amazing that Apple has reached this level of arrogance. “It has an Apple on it why would we need to market or even explain it”.

  2. funkright commented on Jul 5

    The family option helps me out, from an aggregate cost POV, but I do find the interface is not as intuitive as other Apple devices. Additionally, disappointed that the android app wasn’t there at launch, as we have one of these devices in our family. I believe Apple is betting on their entrenched user base to ensure this services long term viability.

  3. peachin commented on Jul 5

    Currently I subscribe to Pandora for $4+ @mo Apple provides a $15 @mo for up to 5 related (whatever that means) Subscribers..that comes down to $3 @ and I would include my 2 Children, 1 child’s mate, My Ex (we’re friends) and me…. That’s 5 people….I have an iPhone, Two PC’s, and android and Apple TV (5 pieces of equipment on the net) Apple allows me up to 5 pieces of Eq (Now)

    Each each person allowed up to 5 pieces of equipment… and 5 people.. would allow the group 25 total pieces of eq being able to connect for $15@mo.? If you answer this… don’t guess… Know or remain quiet. Thanks….

  4. pk de cville commented on Jul 5

    Most of your points are realistic for the first 6 months.

    Any ideas after that? iPhone took 2 years to catch on. Apple is patient and this might work.

    As you say, Music is complex and Apple is giving everyone 3 months to learn it. I bet there are a ton of family accounts right off the bat. Some of the families will be just 6 best friends each paying $2.50 a month or $30/year. Not a bad deal.

    And the richer 20%??? They’ll buy in at $10, no problem, if they prefer Music to Spotify.

    About the money. If Apple can close the deal on being hailed as the best thing that happened to music, how much would you say that’s worth in Good Will, Brand Value, Revenue, and Income?

  5. darkstar commented on Jul 6

    The first problem: it’s built on iTunes. iTunes is a disaster. Don’t get me started. I asked a bunch of teenagers the other day, girls and boys 17-18, friends of my daughter, if anybody was going to get Apple Music. Not a single one will do it. Because they’re scared of iTunes. They know bad things happen when you upgrade.

    Second: Beats radio is terrible. I listened to a few stations, it’s all mainstream crap – what’s the point of having specialized “radio stations” if you play generic junk. OK, I listened to the jazz station for a few minutes, then they DID put on something good, a track from the Miles Davis at the Filmore album. And halfway through the (long) track, they cut it off in the middle with an advertisement! Not even a fadeout. That is the kind of awful experience that will ensure I never listen to Beats radio ever again.

    Ah, what do you expect from a radio station that’s named after crappy, over-priced headphones.

    And, like they say on Silicon Valley – ROI – radio on the Internet.

  6. kaleberg commented on Jul 6

    Why do you think Apple Music is supposed to be profitable? The ITMS was never expected to be profitable. The App Store was never expected to be profitable. Mac OS X was never expected to be profitable. I’m guessing that Apple doesn’t really care if Apple Music ever does more than not bleed money horribly. Apple is a software company makes its money selling hardware. If Apple Music helps Apple sell hardware, possibly including devices we have yet to see, then it will have been worth the effort.

  7. bear_in_mind commented on Jul 7

    Apple has yet to introduce a good music interface other than the click-wheel on the original iPod. It was real engineering that focused on the user experience! The rest of the Apple-based music software has been mediocre, period. They have succeeded despite this shortcoming more on the strength of bringing the content (labels, artists) to the Apple Store. It enabled them to gloss over shortcomings elsewhere. I wouldn’t be surprised if focus on AppleTV has something to do with why this is half-baked. Maybe now that all attention is focused on Apple Music they’ll finally find religion on getting the user interface right. If they can’t sort this out, it still may not fail in the classic sense, but limp along until they can find a better solution. It’s time for Apple to step it up!

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