Can Apple Music keep its 10M users?

Major labels claim 10 million Apple Music users, but how many will pay for the service after the trial?


The Apple Music team is rapidly developing essential iTunes improvements required as they work to convert early trial listeners into fully paid-up Apple Music subscribers.

Major label sources claim Apple Music already has more than 10 million active users. But to keep them, Apple must do everything it can, such as visibly improving the UI and repairing flaws.

Also read: Apple Music is off to an excellent start

We know some users have had problems (particularly if they don’t keep regular backups). Look at the complaints by Jim Dalrymple, (news editor at Macworld US while I occupied the same position at Macworld UK). These prove problems exist and that Apple is working to identify and repair them.

“The missing and duplicate song issues that we’ve all seen in Apple Music are being fixed shortly. They are certainly aware of what’s been going on, I can assure you,” Dalrymple informs.

Big target

Apple has invested a huge quantity of cash in its streaming music service, which has been available for a month – but with only two months remaining on the free three-month trial of the service, the clock is ticking to consolidate the future foundation of its music products.

Whispers claim that when it comes to activity levels Apple Music listeners are on par with Spotify, (which has 75 million users including 20 million subscribers across 58 countries). This means Apple attracts as many listeners as Spotify to some key tracks. That’s interesting as it reflects the above average activity levels usually seen among Apple users.


All the same, Apple must maximize the number of Music users it can migrate to become subscribers. We can currently discern three pegs to its plan to achieving this:

  1. A software update to mitigate the biggest problems users have reported with the service.
  2. A major PR offensive beginning in late August around the time of the MTV Music VMA Awards.
  3. Anticipated new product announcements in the final month of the trial period.

The latter seem likely to include new iPads, iPhones (Apple could potentially offer Apple Music free for a year with new iPhones) and the possible introduction of a new model Apple TV. The latter could also see the launch of the personalized streaming video services we’ve all been talking about for months.

(I imagine conversations are already taking place to offer guaranteed Apple Music streaming quality of service packages with some telcos, in which carriers take a slice of the action in exchange for guaranteed user experiences.)

In play

What we can see is that Apple has multiple cards to play in the next few weeks if it truly wants to consolidate Apple Music adoption. It needs to be pretty aggressive, not only does its service compete in a competitive space, but it needs to be able to deliver the kind of exclusivity that demands scale. Connect is meaningless if the artists won’t use it – remember Ping? Meanwhile, even as it scoops up listeners from those who won’t subscribe, Beats 1 must deliver the kind of audience figures established radio channels provide in order to become a credible entity in its own right.

The world’s biggest music retailer, Apple has huge ambitions in the streaming space. Pre-launch rumors claimed Apple sought 100 million subscribers, though evidence suggests it has failed to achieve this yet. This should surprise no one, given that just 41 million people worldwide pay for streaming music services, according to music industry body, the IFPI.

Cupertino must now make the (claimed) 10 million customers happy enough to pay for the service while attracting more by building intense word of mouth service evangelism, principally across the forthcoming holiday quarter.

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Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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