The Short, Troubled History of Apple Music

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June 8th: Apple unveils Apple Music, while promoting an ‘indie artist’ that doesn’t exist.  The company confidently declares that Apple Music will reach 100 million paying subscribers.

June 10th: Apple faces investigations from two state attorneys general for alleged anti-competitive practices related to the Apple Music launch.

June 11th: A contract leaked to Digital Music News reveals that Apple Music will be paying nothing to independent artists during its three-month free trial, despite having $200 billion in cash reserves.  Independent labels say they weren’t even contacted by Apple, and threaten a pullout.

June 21st: Taylor Swift cries foul over the exploitative contract, demanding compensation and also threatening a pullout.  Apple quickly concedes and agrees to pay artists during the free trial.

June 23rd: Leaked contracts to Digital Music News reveal that Apple is indeed paying artists, but only $0.002 per stream.  This time, Apple doesn’t respond.

July 1st: Apple launches an over-bloated and confusing Apple Music, one day late to mixed reviews.  Longtime iTunes users find their curated collections irreversibly mangled, one test requires 28 separate steps just to upgrade.

August 6th: Apple proclaims that 11 million people are already trying to Apple Music free trial.

August 19th: A MusicWatch study finds that 48% of those trying Apple Music on a free trial have already abandoned the service, while half of those staying on have deactivated automatic credit card billing to avoid getting charged once the trial ends.  Apple quickly contests the findings.

August 21st: Apple and its newly-hired executive Dr. Dre are forced to jointly apologize for multiple, outrageously violent attacks on women following a growing backlash from the media, consumers, and employees.

August 28th: Superstar executive Ian Rogers abruptly departs Apple Music, with fellow executives expressing surprise to the Financial Times.  Rogers was considered instrumental in the development of Beats Music, as well as the launch of Apple Music.


Image: Wabash Train Wreck, Attica, Indiana, April 6, 1914.  Public Domain.

39 Responses

  1. Loren Kramar

    Well as a long time subscription streamer (5+ years), I have a lot invested in a competing platform, so I’m glad Apple Music doesn’t seem to be working out so well for fear of it eating the current platform I use.

    By the same token, has DMN had one single good thing to say about Apple Music? I mean, it can’t be 100% evil and terrible like Mr. Resnikoff makes it seem, can it?

    • Anonymous

      I use it and like it. Former Spotify Premium subscriber. I think the selection on Apple Music is far superior.

    • There is something...

      What? You mean you invested in Spotify shares ? Don’t understand your point…

      • Name2

        If you’ve built up a substantial library or social-shared playlists, transferring to a new service is a bitch. Particularly for classical titles, where the tagging is just atrocious. Also, more competition in this space just means more ways for the majors to be able to threaten each service that they’ll take their ball and go elsewhere.

        • Name2

          Also, Spotify made its mobile client software supercompatible with just about anything. It’s the only streaming service I can get to work on my old Nook Tablet or Vizio 8.

        • There is something...

          Well, that’s the price you have to pay for not owning your music. You’re now reliying 100% on the service. Its not only a question of said service going out of business, your precious collection can get totally f@&cked buy a label removing his music or a simple bug in the app too. Or any poor business / technical decision.

          • Name2

            Um, yeah, well that goes for anything in the cloud from one’s Kindle/nook/Kobo e-books to one’s files stored on Kim Dotcom’s government-destoyed servers. But in a discussion about features, Spotify has social features that make it competitive, such as playlist sharing and publishing, which someone might value more than the wider selection on Apple. Rhapsody at one point had direct download sales, which would make it attractive to someone who wants to hear it before they buy it. Tidal has lossless and a number of high-profile exclusives, etc. They all have predictive “radio” which, to one’s tastes, are worthless or worth the price of admission.

            What you describe also happens when someone’s favorite radio station goes under, too. That you consider it an opportunity to lecture someone to buy everything they hear is more than a little bit nutty.

          • There is something...

            Again, you’re missing the point. We are speaking about “investing” in a service. It doesn’t matter what features the service offers, paying the 9$ subscription is not “investing” in the service. You own nothing, you have nothing to say about how the company will run its business, you get no compensation for any decision the company may take down the road. That’s not “investing”.

            And, where did I say someone should buy everything they hear ? I’m just saying that if you want to “invest”, you should put your money in something you can own or control. So when you subscribe to a streaming service, you should be aware that you’re not owning anything, or controlling anything. You’re not investing in the service, you just pay for the right to use the said service for a definite period of time. Nothing more.

          • MarkH

            “You’re not investing in the service, you just pay for the right to use the said service for a definite period of time. Nothing more”

            What’s the difference between that and buying music on a format will be eventually supplanted?

          • There is something...

            I don’t really see what’s the issue with “supplanted”. It doesn’t take anything away from you but I’ll give you a simple DMN beloved example: when Taylor Swift removed her music from Spotify, if you were a TS fan, it doesn’t matter how much you “invested” in the service, you couldn’t listen to your favorite TS songs anymore. Now if you own TS albums on CD, she can’t send her label’s guys to your home and take back your CD. This is not a format issue but an ownership issue. Again, with streaming, you own absolutely nothing, Zero control.

          • Name2

            And once a thief comes and takes your precious Taylor Swift collection, I hope you’re ready to buy an all new collection, and not rely on those illegal “personal use” rips, which violate copyright!!

          • There is something...

            Your dead wrong, dude. Personal copy is 100% legal in many countries, and it even includes the whole household members in some. Please check your facts.

            Also, you still don’t understand the difference between owing something and using a service. Sure, when you own something, someone can steal it (but chances the thief goes after your iPhone than your Taylor Swift collection are higher imho). But you can still protect what you own, insure it if it has a lot of value and be compensated in case something happen. With streaming and cloud storage, good luck to get any compensation when things go the wrong way. Obviously some people don’t understand that and lawyers are probably already ready to jump in when pissed streaming users will try to sue those streaming services when their precious collection is lost (for whatever reason). Looking forward to the ugly battle !

          • Name2

            Again, you’re missing the point.

            Again, you’re overestimating your cleverness.

            Original quote:

            Well as a long time subscription streamer (5+ years), I have a lot invested in a competing platform […] for fear of it eating the current platform I use.

            She didn’t say she had stock. She said she had a lot invested. Time and curation of one’s libraries, lists (and in the case of Spotify) contacts is no less an investment than organizing one’s physical CD or purchased digital download collection. To return to the example of the awful job these musically illiterate services do on classical recordings, having to switch a service can be akin to discovering a thief has come in the night and moved all of your CDs into the wrong jewel boxes, then put the boxes back on the shelf exactly as they were before.

            Been there, done that, not fun. Time investment can also be counted in the learning curve re: the quirks of how to find something.

  2. Loren Kramar

    Well, as a long time subscription streamer (5+ years), I have a lot invested in a competing platform, so I’m glad Apple Music doesn’t seem to be working out so well for fear of it eating the current platform I use.

    By the same token, has DMN had one single good thing to say about Apple Music? I mean, it can’t be 100% evil and terrible like Mr. Resnikoff makes it seem, can it?

  3. Rob F

    former Spotify premium user here (since Day 1 it was available in the US). I’ve switched to Apple Music and an not looking back.

  4. CG

    Paul seems to really hate digital music in general and Apple music in particular. The only thing I miss about spotify is lyrics on the desktop version and a “go to artist” feature. Otherwise Apple music is far superior and I couldn’t be happier overall

    • Paul Resnikoff

      Well, I’m not sure I hate digital music, but okay, go with that. But, Apple Music? I don’t use it, because it’s needlessly complicated to install, I’m not sure what additional features it has beyond Spotify, it’s heavy bloatware basically, and I don’t feel like mangling my years-old iTunes download collection. Let’s just say when I read the NPD study, I wasn’t completely surprised.

      • so

        The catalog is indeed larger on Apple Music, but that’s just about all it’s got going for it. What you’re getting at Apple Music is streaming access to a lot of records that were kept on iTunes but originally held out of streaming services. Not sure this is meaningful to most listeners – much of the benefit is for people who like some pretty obscure titles – or that this trade-off is worth dealing with the clutter that came with trying to retrofit Beats Music into something useful.

      • There is something...

        I said it before but DMN like to ignore facts, Apple Music let you stream your own library, something Spotify doesn’t offer despite users asking for it. For someone like me with many songs not available from streaming services, this is a huge feature. Maybe Spotify will work on that, by for now they can’t compete here.

        Also, difficult to install ? How many time do you need to remind us you can’t even manage to update a single app ? It took me 3 clicks to install it, but yeah, I must be some computer genius…

        • CG

          Agreed on all points here. The iTunes match like component is huge for me for all the Indie and punk stuff I’ve got I can’t be found on the streaming services… Old mix tapes and the like. And the Syrian a Gratian alone makes it far more valuable to me. I do think the interface is complicated but Siri undoes all of that complication. I find I’m rediscovering my old music and listen to the service a lot more on Apple than I ever did with Spotify

  5. Remi Swierczek

    Apple got intoxicated with Ek’s narcotics.
    Drugs and drug friends are always bed for your future.

    UMG Trojan horse has managed to accelerate SUICIDE of music.
    Mr. Grainge and Mr. Morris, have some honor and quit. Random human might bring miracle to music business!


    1. vinyl = dead

    2. cassette = dead

    3. cd = dead

    4. vinyl resurgence = dead again

    5. streaming = here for the unforeseeable future. label bosses quickly pushing this into the human consciousness as a means to trick the public again – at a waaaaay lower price point. remember $19.99 cd’s? now it’s all you can eat to lure you in. the songwriters pay the ultimate price for this fun little venture.

    6. royalties to songwriters = dead and deader

    i don’t see this business changing anytime soon to favor the artist. why would it? label deals have always been like a bet at a casino. you may taste a little win and get showered by a free room and buffet — BUT, the house always wins. with streaming? the house will win even more. the cards are stacked against artists more so now than ever before in this lovely business. we’re F*CK*D

  7. memont

    the real question is which streaming service will get the Beatles exclusive (if ever)? given their history, it seems like they’ll choose one service. if apple gets it again, that will be a huge boon for them.

  8. Willis

    Funny that you should use a train as the main photo, Paul. Reality is that looking at the history is not an indicator of the future (what we really should be forecasting and looking at) The train – there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

    • Paul Resnikoff

      Certainly, though this is merely a look at the short history, not an attempt to predict the future of Apple Music. There’s certainly the money, as I was reminded by constant ads during the VMAs last night. Or, while driving down Wilshire in Los Angeles in traffic, glancing over at yet-another bus depot with an Apple Music ad.

      But if I’m recapping the first quarter of a football game, and it didn’t go well for the home team, that doesn’t mean they can’t turn it around. It just means they sucked during the first quarter.

  9. GC5

    Apple Music has mangled my very large music collection and works inconsistently or not at all across my devices. I, for one, shan’t be renewing after the trial period is up. I can use the same amount of cash for a yearly streaming service from a competitor ( i have a grandfathered $50 a year plan) and still have lots of money left over to purchase music that I really like.