When Apple Music launched in June 2015, the company thought it had a winning offering that would rise to the top of a growing streaming music market and attract many millions of users to sign up for its $9.99-a-month service. But while more than 10 million users did sign up in the first six months, Apple Music still isn't as popular and category-leading as the company planned for the service.
With that in mind, Apple is apparently planning to redesign and update Apple Music with changes that are expected to be unveiled at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), which is being held June 13-17 in San Francisco, according to a May 4 story by Bloomberg. The changes are in response to "tepid reviews" and the departures of several executives who had joined the company to reinvigorate Apple's music offerings, the story reported.
Among the changes that are expected are improvements to the service's user interface, as well as better integration with its music download services, according to the story, which was based on interviews with anonymous sources who were familiar with the matter.
The revamp plans are coming in response to stagnating Apple iTunes sales and growth of subscribers of rival music streaming services, such as Spotify, the story reported.
Apple launched Apple Music on June 30, 2015, in 100 countries, including the United States, to join the iTunes store as a means to give music lovers a new way to find a huge catalog of music in one destination. Individual memberships are priced at $9.99 per month, while a family membership for up to six family members is priced at $14.99 per month.
By diving into the streaming music business, Apple took on competitors including Spotify, Pandora, Google Play and others in offering subscribers the ability to listen to almost limitless music collections in real time from anywhere.
Apple Music passed the 10 million subscriber plateau in January, hitting that mark in just six months—which is 10 times faster than the six years it took competitor Spotify to hit the same milestone, according to an earlier eWEEK story.
Also tied into Apple's music strategy is its Beats Electronics business, which it acquired for $3 billion in May 2014, including the Beats Music streaming service as well as the company's headphone business. Beats launched Beats Music, a $9.99-a-month streaming music service for iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices, in January 2014, according to a previous eWEEK report.
That acquisition of Beats has been a bit of a problem for Apple, apparently causing a "rare culture clash" that has "led to the departure of several key managers and, most important, created a product that many critics say doesn't meet Apple's own lofty standards," the story reported. "Apple is still struggling to integrate its employees and unite the streaming and downloading businesses into a cohesive music strategy," according to the sources. Some former Beats executives also left Apple since the acquisition.
Interestingly, just two weeks before Apple Music launched last June, Spotify announced that it was getting $526 million in new funding, including a $115 million investment from Nordic telecom operator TeliaSonera AB, according to an earlier eWEEK story. With that investment money, Spotify, one of the most popular players in the streaming music market along with Pandora, was then valued at about $8.53 billion. The additional money is being used to help fortify Spotify as it faces Apple in the marketplace.
Apple has a large user base and an established iTunes business that has been selling music by the song or album since 2003. Spotify's premium music streaming accounts cost $9.99 per month for the first user, with a 50 percent discount for each additional family member who wants to use the service.
In December, Spotify made it easier for party hosts to add a great playlist to their event with a new Spotify Party feature that brings professionally curated dance and party songs together from expert music sources, including DJs and music producers. Spotify Party was created for music fans who need help assembling music playlists for parties and other events. The fledgling service aims to provide Spotify users with professionally mixed playlists featuring custom beat-matched music for a wide range of occasions.