Will AppleMusic be a boon for artists or just another digital leech on the anemic music industry? Sarah Botelho reports.
Move over, Jay-Z. There’s a new streaming service in town.
If you’ve been plugged in over the last 24 hours, you’ve most likely come across the hashtag #AppleMusic. Yesterday at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), CEO Tim Cook revealed Apple’s newest venture: a streaming service that promises to learn your musical tastes and recommend new jams accordingly.
And none other than Toronto’s favourite Degrassi star, Drake, whose new album will be exclusively available on AppleMusic, endorsed it.
Remember last month when the likes of Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj and Rihanna stood behind music streaming service Tidal and vouched for its high-quality audio and exclusive content? Well, this is Apple’s sneaky comeback. But is it really going to give its music concierge competitors a run for their money?
By June 30th, AppleMusic will be up and operating at the same price as both Spotify and Tidal – $9.99/month. Yes, that is more expensive than Netflix. It also features a bonus family option for up to six users for $14.99/month. But Apple left out some key info when unveiling their newest marketing tool.
There was no mention of whether the service will be available offline, a key feature of Spotify’s premium membership. The precursor to AppleMusic, Beats Music, did not offer high-quality audio streaming, something that both Tidal and Spotify pride themselves on, and it’s expected that Apple’s shiny new service will also lack this lustre.
Most importantly, it’s unclear if the royalties from the app will actually translate into real money for artists. In the digital download world, artists pocket a measly 94 cents on the single sale of a $9.99 album – that’s less than a 10 per cent cut. To put that into perspective, musicians would need to sell 12,399 songs a month to earn a salary equal to a McDonald’s employee.
It’s no surprise that Apple decided to jump on the streaming bandwagon. This January it was reported that iTunes sales were down by at least 13 per cent. It’s a smart business move – create an “elite” hub of music, add the clean interface of iTunes, throw in a big name artist advocate and you’re bound to draw subscribers.
But will this streaming service be any different? Or are we just creating another digital vampire poised to suck the life out of the music industry?
Our verdict: AppleMusic will both create an exclusive world of music for the top-paying customers and diminish the worth of the artist’s craft. If the technological world is going to commodify music, they better be ready to pay up.
Will you pay for AppleMusic? Share you thoughts in the comments below or at @ViewtheVibe.