Why I Quit Working at Apple Music

Parachutist: Why I Quit Apple Music
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Parachutist: Why I Quit Apple Music
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photo: Guenther Dillingen

Apple Music is growing faster than Spotify.  In fact, it might be bigger in 1-2 years.  But maybe it’s not all peachy on the inside?

If you get a job offer from Apple, you might want to take it.  This is a company with a storied history, billions in the bank, and lots of benefits.  Indeed, it’s one of Silicon Valley’s top places to work, alongside other heavyweights like Facebook and Google.

So why are some high-profile executives jumping ship?

People move around, especially superstars.  But the departure of high-profile executive Bozomo Saint John earlier this month raised a few eyebrows.  The charismatic Saint John wowed WWDC crowds last year, and took the edge off the ‘dad jeans’ profile of Apple’s brass.  Sounded like a needed jolt, except that Saint John just hailed a ride to Uber.

Uber over Apple?  You see where I’m going here.

Now, there’s an unexpected departure at Apple Music.  Just this morning, we’ve learned that Apple Music artist relations executive David Allen is jumping ship.  The former Gang of Four bassist structured relationships and deals for the Apple expansion, and is a longtime artist advocate.  Throughout, Allen aimed to improve artist earnings and transparency.

Maybe that was part of the problem.  Now, Allen is going back to his former employer, North, Inc.  The creative agency is apparently working on a new music project, and tapped Allen to helm the initiative.

“I want brands to license music directly from artists that are as authentic as their brand.”

All of which potentially offers a shot to start something from scratch.  And finally fix a legacy of artist compensation problems.  “I’ve spent more than two decades working in both the music and tech industry, and I want to use what I’ve learned to level the playing field for musicians by creating revenue streams that go directly to the artist,” Allen said.  “I want brands to license music directly from artists that are as authentic as their brand.”

Of course, Apple Music is mostly about licensing via intermediaries.  And those intermediaries, in turn, tend to keep the lion’s share of the profits.  Indeed, the ‘big three’ major labels are notorious for squirreling artist royalties, and even hampering the financial growth of streaming platforms.

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It’s a corporate picture that frequently leaves creators out, and may have informed Allen’s decision.  “It made perfect sense to collaborate with Dave on our vision of bringing bands and brands together in a new context,” said North Creative  CCO Mark Ray.  “Our ambition is to develop, with integrity and soul, new revenue models between artists and brands.”

“Dave, like North, has music in his DNA.”




6 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    The idea that apple music might be bigger than spotify in 1-2 years is a very funny joke, paul. Some nice content for a friday afternoon, keep it up

    • Paul Resnikoff

      OK, maybe I’m off. But just a quick fact to consider:

      Spotify total paid subs: 40 million
      Average cost per subscription: $5-10/mo (might include $1 for 3 mo. promotional deals)
      Time to get there: 9 years.

      Apple total paid subs: 27 mm
      Avg cost per subscription: $9.99
      Time to get there: 2 years.

      • DMN Whisperer

        Hey Paul. This might be something you find interesting and want to dig into.

        There is a building sentiment at labels and distributors that Apple Music counts their subscribers on a per-person basis vs. Spotify’s per-paid account. That is to say, if a 4 person family has 1 Family Plan subscription Apple is counting that as 4 subscribers. Contrast that with Spotify who would count that same Family Plan as 1 subscriber and you start to understand why Apple, who has no free tier, pays a higher share percentage of revenues to labels/artists, and has over half the total number of paid subscribers yet is paying labels (gross revenues, not per stream) so much less than Spotify.

        Fun with numbers. It’s the corporate way.

        • danwriter

          Apple also had a jumpstart with millions of credit card numbers already on account. Daniel Ek has other things to lose sleep over than this.

  2. King Shlomo

    Uber’s misogynist republican exec team needed Bozoma and probably paid her boat loads to leav. So would I. Dave is an entrepreneur and former artist who has his own ambitions that don’t fit a corporate culture. 2 Execs doesn’t mean Apple Music has a problem. Now if the article started with don’t piss jimmy off or he’ll stick his dog on you than this artlcle may have some validity.