If streaming is arriving to a new era, then what company should be rather thrilled by this new ecosystem…Apple. Rather quietly Apple Music now has the most paying American music streamers according to Digital Music News
; Fast Company reported Spotify
still held the lead but the overall trend is in California fruit company’s favor. Spotify’s entire user base, paying and non-paying, is certainly larger than Apple Music’s, but there’s another reason Apple may want to thank their favorite Canadian rapper.
The relationship between Drake and Apple Music benefited both parties. Apple Music got first dibs on Drake’s record-breaking 2016 album Views, while the rapper is now the avatar for the paid music streaming era. An often overlooked part of Apple Music’s library is Beats 1 radio, which in the case of Drake, who has his own OVO Radio show named after his recording imprint, means his fans have a reason to hold onto their subscription even if no new album on the horizon. Artists like Bad Bunny, Pharrell, Deadmau5, Elton John, Charli XCX, and Frank Ocean all have their own Beats 1 shows, reaching dedicated fans who’d rather connect with their favorite musician than trust an algorithm for song recommendations.
I got well reasoned feedback about giving too much credit to Beats 1/Drake and not enough to the vast iPhone market for why Apple Music’s rapid growth. That’s fair. I was trying to figure out that even if the iPhone is the reason for growth, why is Apple Music’s engagement so greater than Spotify. Could it be that Drake bought a dedicated audience of music fans to the platform—how many nights is he gonna sell out this year, or maybe even Apple Music’s more rigid approach to music stream is what is helping here. Spotify encourages uses to press play and not worry about what song will come next, where Apple Music wants you to know curators, listen to Beats 1, and check out new albums. Apple Music is a record store, Spotify is the radio.
A thought I heard last month in regards to this question is that potentially Spotify hooked former Pandora users, who comparatively are relatively casual music fans. While, Apple Music is continuing to pick off people that lived in the iTunes world and are ready to consume the music they already know they want and not simply listen to an artist radio selection. I hold no data or internal chatter to confirm that thought, but it does align with how the services present themselves to the world.
Heightened paying engagement is going to be ever more the talk of town as Billboard is now officially weighing paid streams more than non-paid streams. A move that lowers the value of a stream for millions of non-paying Spotify users. I doubt many artists are going to up-end their marketing plan over this, but it show a further lean to Apple Music’s approach in music streaming.
Apple should be so happy with their Drake partnership. The streaming service that arrived late the party, constantly copies the competition, and always felt a bit annoying is still finding success. Earliest this year Daniel Ek said there is space for competition in the streaming space, but I wonder how many unlimited music app the marketplace wants?