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Can Apple Music Survive?

It's D-Day for Apple's music project, will it work?

30Sep

Apple Music has just launched in China.

China hardly represents unchartered territory for Apple, but the country’s problems with copyright infringement will continue to be a concern. The Chinese government’s recent initiatives to crack down on piracy will have allayed the tech giant’s fears to a degree, but with Google trying and failing in China with a music streaming service of their own in 2009, Apple will know that its name won’t be enough alone to ensure the project’s success.

Success in China has taken on heightened importance as Apple Music continues to stumble in Europe and North America. In August, it was revealed that the service had already attracted 11 million users, but there was a catch - nobody’s actually paying for it yet. Since then, it’s reportedly lost half its user base, with a MusicWatch survey finding that 48% of trial users were no longer using it.

When initially released, it was assumed that Apple Music would rival Spotify and Pandora. At the Advertising Week conference this month, neither of the companies seemed too concerned. Introduced as the Pepsi and Coke of the music streaming business; Pandora’s Chief Marketing Officer, Simon Fleming-Wood, said: ‘If for them to succeed, they had to hurt either one of us, it doesn’t look like they’re succeeding’. According to Tech Insider, Spotify has actually been growing faster since the arrival of Apple Music, with a new round of funding seeing the streaming service’s valuation rise to $8.53 billion.

The criticism put to Apple has been varied. Two of the biggest critiques have been Apple Music’s user interface and the method by which playlists are created. There are, however, a number of new Apple products on the horizon which could offer hope to the streaming service. The iPhone 7, Apple TV and the highly anticipated iPad pro, could be a real chance for Apple Music to reinvent itself on a number of new operating systems.

It’s playlists function continues to be a sticking point, with Digital Spy saying: ‘Apple Music might not have 99 problems (yet, anyway), but its playlists are certainly one’. The article also stated that ‘the problems [with making a playlist] are so diverse that it’s hard to second guess what error you’re going to face next’. If Apple Music is serious about being a genuine competitor to Spotify, this needs to be addressed.

For those who downloaded Apple Music on a three month trial on the first day it was launched, today (October 1st) is the day when you’re going to have to make up your mind as to whether it’s worth actually paying for. There is no truer evaluation of a product’s success, and if Apple Music can hold on to a respectable chunk of its user base, it will give Apple a platform from which they can improve the service with upcoming iterations.

With all this to consider, the release of Apple Music in China comes with considerable baggage. But where there’s hope, there’s life. The service will be launched at an affordable 10 yuan - or $1.57 - per month, and is available on Android - the most prevalent mobile operating system in China.

Whatever the case, Apple Music will be met by a group of competitors in the Chinese market which are every bit as hungry to resign them to failure as those in the US and a public that’s still not convinced that piracy isn’t the way forward. 

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