Apple Music hits 20 million subscribers by focusing on Hip-Hop – The Loop

I’ve said this since the launch of Apple Music, but it seems very clear now. “Music” is no longer in Apple’s DNA — hip-hop is what’s important to Apple. Again, it’s a numbers game. More people are listening to that genre than ever before, so Apple can leave the Rock/Blues/Metal acts to another service and still add subscribers using hip-hop exclusives. It’s actually refreshing to see Apple finally admit it.

People like me with an existing music library that rely on the often non-working iTunes Match are no longer Apple’s market. I even opened up a second Apple Music account to see if iTunes Match would work — it didn’t.

In a lot of ways it makes perfect sense that Apple is building a music service that doesn’t require a music library — there’s less hassle and they don’t have to rely on services like iTunes Match to please those customers. Apple is catering to those customers very well. However, it’s a shame they don’t care about the rest of us any more.

Jim Dalrymple writing on The Loop says what I’ve been thinking for a while. His article is a reaction to something that Phil Schiller said, when discussing Apple Music hitting the milestone of 20 million subscribers:

We’ve always thought that hip-hop was underrepresented both in iTunes and in the streaming chart. And more people listen to hip-hop now than ever before so we’ve done a lot of work in that area.

I doubt it was underrepresented anywhere. If people were listening to it, it wasn’t that they were doing so just by pirating music.

But, as Jim Dalrymple says, Apple’s focus on just one genre (well, make it two, with the sort of mass-produced pop that they also highlight) may be good for the numbers now, but it’s alienating a lot of other listeners. Apple honestly doesn’t know how many listeners of other genres may be interested in their service, since they’re turned off by its insistence on highlighting just hip-hop and pop music.

Also, these users are fickle. Jim Dalrymple says:

What Apple will recognize is that the people they attract with exclusives will go to the next music service that has an exclusive without blinking an eye or without any loyalty to Apple. By that time, the base of users that they’ve relied on for years will also be gone.

I’m not sure people will leave that quickly, because it’s still a monthly subscription, bit it is easy to cancel and resubscribe. If Apple wants to keep users, they need to focus not just on the people who stream, but the people who build libraries using Apple Music. Those are the ones who are less likely to switch, because they have a lot invested in the service.

Source: Apple Music hits 20 million subscribers by focusing on Hip-Hop

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4 thoughts on “Apple Music hits 20 million subscribers by focusing on Hip-Hop – The Loop

  1. This strikes me as using a gaggle of edge cases — the poor functionality of the twilight iTunes Match feature, users with large libraries of owned music files foolish enough to try to integrate the library with an iCloud Music Library, users motivated by having access to the brief window of album exclusives, and “the people who build libraries using Apple Music” (not even sure what that means) — to gripe about an alleged ongoing fundamental failure of Apple Music. It doesn’t add up. Apple Music is a streaming service, featuring pretty much exactly the same music as Spotify, and my guess is that it’s chugging along nicely within the limits imposed by not offering a free tier. And if Apple Music is favoring one music genre over the others as a marketing tool, it has zero effect on my use of Apple Music.

    If Apple Music has a future it’s going to be as a pure streaming play, and all of the stuff that never worked right, including Match and the idea that Cupertino robots cansomehow weave together the library of files you own and the library of music you favorite, borrow, or stream without messing something up, is going to drop away as the vestigial, superannuated features they already are.

    For me, the only way to stay safe and sane is by using two iTunes libraries, one for the music I own (with iCloud Music Library not enabled in Preferences) and one for bookmarking and streaming Apple Music, and crucially, by keeping them meticulously and hermetically apart from one another. Pretty much all of the gnashing of teeth about Apple Music I see these days, including Dalrymple’s, is based on trying to mix the apples and oranges of streaming and carefully curated libraries of local files.

  2. I realize it doesn’t help those who have had a terrible time with iTunes Match, and I have plenty of Apple products that don’t work as advertised, but iTunes Match hasn’t been a big problem for me. Even now that I’ve integrated with Apple Music. (Why am I tempting fate?)

  3. If the complaint is that you can’t find the music YOU like, then the obvious suggestion is to make Apple Music aware of the hole in its offerings. But declaring hip-hop not music is narrow and ridiculous, the implication throughout this article being that it should be “separate but equal” on another service. This is, of course, in line with those who continue to fear black voices “taking over” the “mainstream.” A more honest premise for this article: Hip-hop is music YOU don’t like. With 30 million tracks on offer, it’s harder to argue that different genres are not well represented but one that can be and has been made again and again. We could, for instance, begin the conversation about what is currently not as readily available or well presented and marketed, including contemporary classical, jazz in all its complexity and indie artists OF ALL STRIPES. Hip-hop’s presence was increased as a response to users’ requests. Apple is listening. Start talking.

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