Yesterday Apple released the latest iOS update that included Apple Music. This buzzed-about service officially puts Apple into the world of streaming along with Spotify, and Rdio. The update also includes a heavy emphasis on radio-both traditional live radio and custom stations based on user’s choices.
This launch is a big deal to musicians. Will Apple Music be able to make streaming a viable part of a musician’s income? Will its paid-only service be able to attract enough fans to make a difference?
The most important thing that we need to know right now, as a community of artists, is if Apple Music is actually going to appeal to the masses. Music fans are what keep artists going, and if any streaming service is going to work, it has to be backed by fans.
Does Apple Music Meet Fan Needs?
This release has garnered mixed reviews, but the general view is that Apple Music is powerful, but is busy and hard to navigate. There are great features, such as Siri’s ability to control the app and find specific music for you without ever pushing a button. The app also seamlessly integrates with your current iTunes library. If a fan wasn’t already a convert to streaming music, this app makes it incredibly easy for them to make the switch.
These things are great features, but they are somewhat overshadowed by the sheer volume of content in the app. It’s slightly confusing to navigate between the different tabs, and each tab seems to have about a million options. However, these slightly confusing problems are not deal breakers, though they limit the app’s usefulness.
If fans were hoping that Connect would bring them closer to their favorite artists, they were probably a little disappointed today. The Connect tab is pretty bare. This could change as artists invest some time into uploading content, but so far, Connect is fairly disappointing.
Apple Music for Artists
So what should artists do in the wake of this massive and highly publicized launch?
Use All Streaming Services Wisely
We’ve talked about it before, but streaming services shouldn’t be the main way you get fans to listen to your music. When used well, streaming can be an effective tool for marketing your music. However, with the current way that streaming pays artists, you shouldn’t count on it as a major income stream. Instead, leverage the people who find you and follow you on streaming services and try to take them from casual listeners to real fans.
Use Connect to Actually Connect
Apple touts Connect as a place for artists to post exclusive content to fans. This is great in theory, except that there is no way to monetize this content, and there is no way for artists to capture fan information. The word exclusive is also misleading, since anyone can log onto Connect (you don’t have to have a subscription to Apple Music), and you can post the same content on Connect that you post to any number of social media sites.
But Connect does give fans a way to look at your profile while their streaming your music. Connect has the potential to let fans and artists interact directly in the service they use to purchase music, and this is a good thing. You’ve gotten a fan’s attention, and you can use Connect to post content that will encourage them to engage with you further. You should use Connect like any other social media outlet. You can direct fans to your website, post about shows or new releases, or let them know where they can sign up for your mailing list!
I will insert a disclaimer into this: Remember when I told you I had a problem with Apple Music allowing me to claim my Connect profile? As of July 1st, this is still a problem. My music is available on Apple Music’s streaming service, but I can’t log into Connect to post to any potential fans. My account is still awaiting verification.
Apple should probably also be worried that artists just won’t post on Connect. This was Apple’s problem with the failed music social network Ping. Since the content that artists are posting to Connect is probably not different than what musicians are already offering on Facebook, Twitter, and Soundcloud, artists have to decide whether the extra time spent updating another social media profile is really worth it. Connect also doesn’t work from a desktop computer. It is only accessible through the iPhone and iPad app. This limits the service’s functionality, especially if you like to do most of your social media posting from a computer.
Ultimately, it all comes down to the fans. If the users of Apple Music love the service, and it becomes the go-to place for people to listen to their favorite music, than the creators will have to follow, or be left in the dust. (remember Myspace?)
We will keep you updated as we learn more details about how much Apple music is actually going to pay artists, and if Connect actually works to keep musicians and fans, well, connected.
Do you have any thoughts on Apple Music? Do you this this is going to drastically alter the way fans consume music? Let us know it the comments!