Loner Magazine - The reality of Apple streaming

The reality of Apple streaming

Last month, Apple confirmed the June launch of its new music streaming service. For those of you unaware, this new service will revamp the Beats streaming service and integrate it with what is now a culturally outdated iTunes–replacing the iTunes branding over Beats’ of course. To consult on the new venture, Apple brought on board DJ Zane Lowe (famed BBC radio DJ), Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and Beats co-founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre (proving that music truly does bring people together, no matter how different they may be).

It’s not hard to see why Apple has finally decided to enter the modern age of music streaming, now that iTunes’ sales are in decline, and there has been a lot of speculation on how Apple will fair in streaming’s saturated market, especially against music giant, Spotify.

I’m won’t pretend to know how Apple’s new service will perform, or if it will steal users from Spotify, but I do know this: I’m probably not going to use it.

For those of you who don’t know me, let me catch you up to speed. My name is Johnny. I’m 23 and a recent college graduate. I moved from a small town in the Texas hill country to a flat in Austin a few months ago. I also work in the tech industry and am an early adapter to most new technology. I have roughly five devices I can stream music on and listen to a lot of music. I say all of this to justify that I’m not only a textbook millennial, but also the target demographic for Apple’s new streaming service.  And plain and simple: I’m not switching from Spotify.

Why, you ask?

Well, if inquiring minds want to know, I have a couple reasons:

I’m not picky about the way I get my music. Spotify does a great job (better than iTunes I might add) in displaying the music in an easy-to-use format. I have absolutely no complaints about Spotify other than the ads. But hey, listening to ads in exchange for all the music I could ever want to listen to…I would say it’s a pretty good deal. If I really wanted to get rid of those ads, I would just need to subscribe to premium for $10/month (or $5 if I was a student), which, incidentally, is the asking price for Apple’s new service.

All of my friends are on Spotify. All of them. In fact, I know a large portion of my friends that barely even use iTunes anymore because they are on Spotify (let’s not even mention the mass exodus from Pandora to Spotify). It’s great. People can send me songs. I can send them songs. I can see what other people are listening to if I need new music. You can form a collaborative playlist (my brothers and I have actually contributed to our own since 2012).

Something else to consider: I’m one of the only people I know who still uses their iPod on a consistent basis instead of their phone. Sure, Apple’s service will be offered on smart phones (Androids included), but you know what music app people already have on their phones? Spotify.

Spotify is too established on social media to be dismantled. The company is seemingly in bed with Facebook, since Sean Parker owns large amounts of shares in both companies. Apple isn’t just going up against Spotify, it’s going up against the marketing and social media presence of the godfather of social media, Facebook. You log into Spotify via Facebook. You link your Spotify account with your Facebook profile. Spotify tells your Facebook friends that you were listening to Tom Jones, whether you want it to or not. Spotify is too interconnected with Facebook, and thus your digital life, for you to just up and leave.

Personally, I don’t think Apple will win in a fight with Spotify AND Facebook–the website we can’t seem to get off of even though most people my age would agree they hate it. Why? Because “we lived on farms, then we lived in cities, and now we’re going to live on the internet!” Unfortunately for Apple, their specialty is hardware and software, not online services. Which is exactly what Spotify and Facebook do.

“But Johnny, don’t you remember that everyone was on Myspace and then it was quickly replaced by Facebook? If history is any indication, isn’t it reasonable to think that all of the world can switch from one streaming service to another?”

How very astute of you. Yes and No. If another music streaming service came along and had a new and fresh take on music streaming, sure. You’d be interested. I’d be interested. However, that isn’t the case here. Facebook overtook Myspace because it did social media better, but also because it was the underdog. It was cool. You know what’s not cool? Corporate America. And in the tech community, Apple is about as corporate as you can get. It’s not unusual (Tom Jones!) to mention Apple in the same sentence as Berkshire Hathaway, ExxonMobil and J.P. Morgan. In fact, it fits right in. Apple is one of the largest publicly held companies in the world. It has been for years. By no stretch of the imagination is Apple the underdog in this situation.

What I see here is a company that has struggled to say innovative since the death of Steve Jobs and over the past four years has only tried to follow trends instead of setting them. Spotify revolutionized the way people listen to music and has been, in my opinion, the music industry’s best response to music piracy to date. Apple’s response to Spotify is to buy a streaming site that no one uses and slap iTunes branding on it. Nothing new. Nothing Fresh. Same old, same old.

I could be wrong.

Apple has proven time and time again that they excel at taking what someone else has done and making their own better version (MP3 players, cell phones, user interface on the Mac, hardware design, even advertising their products).

The point I’m trying to make, with my rambling, is that despite what potentially awesome service Apple could roll out in June, I don’t particularly care. I said it before, I am the center of this service’s target market and if I’m not going to switch from Spotify, who exactly is?