Brought to us by the team behind Beats music, Apple Music aims to build ’a bigger and better music ecosystem with the elegance and simplicity that only Apple can do.’ Launching in 100 countries later this month, after a three-month trial, it costs $9.99 a month in the US.
The service is essentially split into three different parts. The first part is the music streaming service, based on a catalogue of millions of songs and music videos, as well as a variety of playlists created by editors and musicians. This is the part that will most closely compete with the likes of Spotify. However with Spotify today announcing the positive news that their paying customer base has now reached 20 million users, it will be interesting to see how this shakes up the market.
Apple’s unique standpoint will of course be that it can build its new music service into the hundreds of millions of devices that its loyal Apple users already love. Either way, the announcement is a positive step for the music streaming market as a whole. We are currently in early discussions with Apple on potential advertising opportunities.
The second part of the launch will see Apple make a foray into the radio broadcasting world, with a new global 24 hour radio station called Beats 1. Here the service will enter a thriving digital ecosystem alongside services such as Absolute Instream, Talksport Instream and Global’s DAX. The new station will be headed up by new recruit Zane Lowe and will broadcast from Los Angeles, New York and London.
Although the appointment of former Radio 1 supremo Lowe will bring in a certain audience for Apple, this doesn’t necessarily guarantee it success.
The challenge for all audio services is to appeal to all audiences; especially the 1634’s who are listening to less radio now than 5 years ago. BBC Radio 1 has successfully made its profile younger but at a loss of overall (older) listeners. The likes of Spotify & Apple will appeal to this audience and provide access for advertisers to its core target audiences.
The final part of the new Apple Music launch is Apple Connect, a cross between Facebook and Soundcloud, where artists will be able to post music, videos and photos for fans to follow them. Apple is bidding to become the hub for their online activity, and the move highlights how they are trying to simplify the ecosystem and bring all elements of music consumption under one banner.
So, in a current day music market that is already fragmented, offering many different ways and platforms to consume music, what does this new announcement mean for the rest of the music streaming market?
It must be said that not only will consumers benefit from new ways to consume media, and advertisers benefit from an increased audience, this announcement will also benefit Spotify, as the service will reap the windfall of so much attention to the music streaming business it helped pioneer. The new competition should spark a return to growth for the industry, after the less than promising results posted by Tidal Music recently.
A new launch from Apple, when it comes to the UK with its vast digital penetration and marketing reach, could represent one of those pivotal moments when the industry takes its next big leap forward. It is sure to give the streaming market, which doubled last year in the UK, a further boost. But most importantly, it is likely to deliver a fantastic experience for music fans.
So what does this mean for marketers and advertisers?
There is the potential for marketers to use the music streaming service in the same way they use Spotify – joining the conversation, creating playlists and sharing content with their fans.
It will also be interesting to see how many people are prepared to pay for another streaming service and whether the free to use, ad-funded Spotify package will continue to grow in popularity.
It's unclear whether Apple plans to run ads on Beats 1, though the company is said to have scheduled meetings with media buyers to discuss iTunes Radio, the earlier incarnation released in the USA a year or so ago.
However Apple Connect, the social arm of the service, could be interesting from a marketing point of view – providing artists with their own pages, creating connections with users of the service, with video content added in. This kind of service is ripe for brand partnerships and sponsored content – if brands can find the right voice to connect authentically with consumers.