Let’s face it – ‘a thousand songs in your pocket’ was closer to the truth than ‘where artists and fans come together’. iPod and iTunes literally enabled users to carry more than 1000 songs on a playback device for the first time ever. On the contrary, artists and fans have often come together on multiple occasions on varied platforms. Some compelling examples are:

  • PledgeMusic – aides musicians in soliciting crowd-funding from fans
  • SoundCloud – enables sharing and promotion of music
  • YouTube – allows artists to receive feedback from audiences

As for music subscription, Rhapsody forayed into this space a good decade earlier.

How, then, can Apple hope to galvanize the market in its favor despite being a late entrant? The answer may lie in history. Apple has a track record of taking something seemingly commonplace and transforming it into a market winner, especially in the music business. These examples stand testimony to this fact:

  • GarageBand, which started as a collection of various sound effects, has transformed into a mini ‘recording studio’
  • iPod, which started as a portable playback device, has transformed into a multi-purpose pocket computer
  • iTunes, which started as a media player, has transformed into an e-commerce platform

An encore with Apple Music would not be surprising.

WNS’ Experience with Apple Music

Apple Music’s potential to be a market winner became even more apparent when we tried the app for ourselves. The app organizes your music experience around five tabs, of which one, My Music, is dedicated purely to maintaining backward compatibility, as it contains the pre-purchased music and playlists downloaded from Apple Music for offline listening.

The Connect tab provides a platform for artists to communicate with fans directly via text updates, audio clips, and video recordings. However, fans are going to miss Spotify’s social tools, which allowed them to follow friends, and find fan-made playlists directly on the service. The Radio works in two different ways – Beats 1 is a live, 24 hours, global radio, manned by some of the best in the industry. Then there are a whole lot of other stations that are inspired by your tastes and preferences. Whether or not these stations really adapt to your taste, we cannot yet confidently say. The New tab keeps coming up with even more playlists, top chart lists and music videos.

The For You tab is the heart of personalized music experience, and the core of Apple Music. Lifted from Beats Music, this engine is a hybrid of Spotify and Pandora – an on-demand music service that utilizes an extensive catalog to curate a taste-and-mood based selection, while giving total control to the user to choose which songs to listen to, and which ones to skip. Additionally, these playlists have been thoughtfully created by human tastemakers who understand the nuances of music and human emotions, and not algorithmically put together by a computer program that scans metadata. The machine learning part is limited only to understanding the user better, which it does by analyzing your years of iTunes listening, and asking you about your preferences.

Though the menus are nested and may take a little getting used to, integration with Siri provides great respite. Not only can Siri look up specific songs or artists, it’s also pretty good (not perfect, but pretty good) at analyzing charts on-the-fly – so you can ask Siri for the best song of 1987 and Walk Like an Egyptian.

Combine these rock-solid features with Apple’s clout and marketing prowess, and you have a recipe for some serious last-mover advantage. Would this last-mover advantage be enough to offset the well-entrenched position of the competitors? Well, that would be the subject of the next installment of this series. Keep watching this space.

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