Apple Music Launch Hits Some Sweet and Sour Notes

Apple’s launch of its Apple Music streaming service in June was as noteworthy for the musician royalty row it sparked as for the competition Apple aspires to offer Spotify and Pandora, to judge by a review of analyst blogs and tweets. Over the past 60 days, in 21 blog posts and 116 tweets, analysts for the most part treated the announcement as expected and inevitable, rather than as an Earth-shaking development in the personal entertainment space.

Apple Music analyst blogs+tweets graph 6.1.15-7.31.15 70pct

As Euromonitor’s Ryan Tuttle wrote, “When Apple acquired Beats Music and Beats Electronics in 2014 it was believed that Cupertino was planning to enter the music streaming business.”

While Apple is regarded as a potentially formidable competitor in any market it enters, analysts are not prepared to award the championship of streaming music to Apple simply because it’s there. As Steffen Sorrell of Jupiter Research put it, though some are portraying Apple as Goliath to Spotify’s David, “the market is very much open; the likelihood that Apple Music will lead to Spotify’s demise is actually very low…”

Apple’s initial decision to withhold royalty payments to artists during Apple Music’s 90-day free trial period – which rankled artists, most notably and visibly Taylor Swift – became as big a story as the launch of the service itself. Media and analysts alike paid attention. In his blog post for Strategy Analytics, Michael Goodman wrote, “Apple does not want to get into a battle with musicians during this critical launch period, particularly one who knows how to wield her influence as well as Taylor Swift. As a result, Apple reversed its position…” Apple received credit from the music industry, analysts and the market for revising its stance on royalties, calming a budding storm that could have seriously damaged an initiative that many believe will, eventually, be a money-making line of business for the company – although to date even Spotify, the market leader, is not turning a profit.