Apple already has some 11 million users signed up for 90-day free trials under its fledgling Apple Music streaming service, while its Apple App Store appears to have rung up chart-topping sales for the month of July.
The early figures, which come about five weeks after the June 30 launch of Apple Music, were revealed in an Aug. 6 report by USA Today that included an interview with Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet software and services.
“We’re thrilled with the numbers so far,” which included 2 million customers who signed up for the higher-priced $14.99-a-month family plan that let up to six household members use an account, Cue told the paper. A monthly membership for a single person is $9.99.
July was also a record month for Apple’s online App Store, which brought in revenue of $1.7 billion, much of which came in from China, according to Cue.
So far, none of the Apple Music customers are paying for the service due to the 90-day free trial period that they are given when they sign up, so Apple has not yet booked any customer revenue for the new service. Billings won’t begin for customers who choose to continue the service until the initial free trials are finished at the end of September.
Cue told USA Today that Apple still is resolving some glitches that are to be expected when starting up any large new service, including some reports of users seeing duplicate playlists and mislabeled tracks, the paper reported. “We’re aware that some users have experienced some issues, and we hate letting them down, but we’re releasing updates as fast as we can to address those issues,” Cue told the paper.
With Apple Music, Apple is taking on a wide range of established rivals in the streaming music business, including Pandora, Spotify and Rhapsody.
Apple Music puts the entire Apple Music catalog of some 30 million songs at the fingertips of subscribers. A user’s existing music tracks, whether purchased from the iTunes Store or ripped from CDs, will live in one place on their devices alongside the Apple Music catalog. With an Apple Music membership, a user’s entire library lives in Apple’s iCloud. The service automatically compares every track in a user’s music collection to Apple’s music library and can play it from the iCloud if Apple has a copy. If the music is not in Apple’s catalog, it is uploaded from iTunes on a user’s Mac or PC so it won’t take up space on a user’s devices.
The service also incorporates an intelligent search engine to help users find the music they are seeking. It remembers whether users are looking in their local music library or in the Apple Music library, so they get results from the place they expect. Users can also browse music they’ve previously looked for, and they can see what searches are trending.
Apple Music members can easily add tracks, albums or videos from the Apple Music library once they find it in search. Members can then also create personalized playlists from music they’ve added to their collections. Plus, music can be saved for offline listening on the road. Users can post your favorites to Facebook, Twitter or Messages.
In addition, Apple Music allows users to integrate their existing iTunes collections, learn about new artists and music from expert curators, and select their favorite and least-favorite types of music so Apple Music can share suggestions based on user preferences.
The service is initially available to Mac, iPhone, iPad and iPod users once they upgrade to the latest iOS 8.4 operating system (which includes Apple Music integration), as well as to Windows users of iTunes. By the fall, Apple Music will also be available to Apple TV and Android users. Apple Watch users must get updates from a paired iPhone to use Apple Music. Users of Apple’s existing Beats music service can move their Beats subscription over to Apple Music and save their existing playlists.
Apple Music Attracts 11M Trial Members, App Store Has Record Month
Also featured in Apple Music are curated playlists from experts around the world as well as Beats 1, a live online radio streaming service that includes on-air personalities spinning songs and exploring new music with listeners.
Subscribers can also take in the new Connect feature in Apple Music, which lets artists and fans communicate with one another directly for a more intimate look at the music and bands that fans love. Through Connect, artists can share on-the-road experiences, lyrics, backstage photos and videos, or release their latest songs directly to fans from an iPhone, while fans can comment or interact with artists through social media platforms.
Apple Music was unveiled at Apple’s Worldwide Developer conference in early June and has already had some controversy even before its launch. The company wasn’t planning on paying musicians for their work during the 90-day free trials for subscribers, but that move was reversed in late June when pop music icon Taylor Swift criticized the earlier decision as unfair to musicians.
Swift wrote an eloquent post, “To Apple, Love Taylor,” on Tumblr June 21 that called Apple’s original decision to withhold payments to music writers, producers and artists for three months “shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company,” eWEEK reported at the time.
An Apple executive quickly responded publicly on Twitter, reversing the company’s stand and pledging to pay royalties to musicians and recording companies even during the free customer trials.