The 48%

“People are giving up on Apple Music, survey says – 48 percent of Apple Music trialists have stopped using the service, but Apple has denied that claim”

-The Verge

Is Apple Music the new Twitter?

You know they’re in trouble when they respond. Steve Jobs would never do this. Even if their number is accurate, which it certainly ain’t, not in context, it shows they’re anxious and worried about perception.

Let’s go with Apple’s 79%. What qualifies as usage? I ramped up the product the other day, but I haven’t used it for weeks, whereas Spotify’s my main man, so am I one of the faithful?

Of course not.

The bottom line is Apple broke the number one precept of software…USABILITY!

Early adopters complained and as a result many never even tried the app. That’s what bad word of mouth will do for you. It’s the opposite of the iPod phenomenon, wherein people clamored to be a member of the tribe and ultimately switched their whole ecosystem to Apple.

Remember when Twitter was burgeoning? When we all live tweeted awards shows and sporting events? Back before we found out the service was a desert where you only got wet by pissing on yourself? Twitter’s a good place to find raw news, it’s a terrible place to communicate. Apple Music has got all the tunes right there, but trying to find them amidst your MP3s and the playlists ultimately becomes so frustrating that you tune out.

So where does this leave us?

In a world where Taylor Swift loses. That’s right, yesterday’s hero is getting pummeled in the Nordics, where CDs are dead and Spotify rules. Proving if you’re not everywhere, you’re barely anywhere. Just ask Dr. Dre, the Beatles of hip-hop, whose album was decimated by a pretty boy country star known as Luke Bryan. It’s like John Lennon’s new album being killed by Peter Frampton’s. The one AFTER “Comes Alive.”

So we’ve learned everything we know is wrong. Apple is not infallible and exclusives are anathema. We don’t need anyone, everyone can be forgotten.

Not that Apple Music will gain no subscribers. But when the free trial is up, it will be operating with one hand behind its back. Because once you’re gone, it’s so hard to get you back, after someone has kicked the tires and left, they rarely come back. Just ask a car company. When you turn in your car they’ll bend over backward to write off excess miles and damage if you’ll just re-lease, they want you in the family.

Which is why you have to do such a good job of keeping people in the family to begin with, which is why you can’t misstep.

Recently Apple’s been the homeland of missteps. First with the U2 album. Didn’t anybody there foresee trouble? Of course not, because they’re in the bubble. And no one can mesmerize the recording industry like Jimmy Iovine, he’s one of them, so he convinced everyone Apple Music was gonna win. The only problem is he forgot to tell the people who might make it a success, the customers, the listeners. It’s like Jimmy ignored the history of the internet, where the middleman is excised and the relationship between product and end user is king. Jimmy’s locked up, and if you think anybody takes that site seriously you believe no one pays them for ink. An endless circle jerk. But now it’s Apple Music.

So, Apple entered the sphere and failed to save us. That’s right, all you bitching about Spotify who were waiting for the white knight, he’s not coming. There is no Trojan Horse, while we’re on the equine tip. Because Apple Music is a me-too product that works poorly and was marketed barely at all. Sure, the business press covered it but there’s crickets on the interwebs, where the word is spread. The Tidal stars got everybody talking about their service in a day, but the world’s richest corporation could not achieve this.

Meanwhile, the clueless keep testifying about Apple’s supposed victories. The power of Beats 1, that it’s reinventing radio. Ain’t that a laugh, one professional deejay and a bunch of wannabes, if this is the future I want no part of it.

Deejaying is a professional occupation. As is tech. Sure, marketing is an element, but that’s not what built Google. Marketing was secondary to all the internet phenoms. Was Facebook built on marketing?

But Facebook was the anti-MySpace. It just worked when the service Fox bought did not. What a concept! Furthermore, you had to use your real name and Zuckerberg kept improving the product, adding new features. You were excited to hook up with your old friends, you enjoyed building a monument to yourself. But even the musicians don’t want to play on Connect. How many times can you fail at a social network before you give up? This is two strikes, isn’t that enough in internet time, can you say “PING!”

The artists don’t like the future and the labels hate it too and the only ones who are happy are the consumers, who suddenly have the history of recorded music at their fingertips. For free, on YouTube. If you want to get them to pay you’ve got to provide a BETTER experience than YouTube. But I can Google any song and find it immediately on the video service but I can’t even find my own MP3s on Apple Music, at least not quickly. As for the vaunted curation/playlists, I’ll admit knowing what to listen to is a problem, but it’s SECONDARY to payment. Somehow people figure out how to find YouTube clips and play them a hundred million times, with no help. Playlists are a sideshow, not the main affair.

And so is most music. We’re in the superstar era. You’re famous or you’re not. And if you’re not, no amount of streaming payment rejiggering is gonna make you rich. Rather, the rich will get richer and you will be ignored.

So what I know is streaming has won. Done. Vinyl, CDs and MP3s…HISTORY! It’s just a matter of where you stream and whether people get paid for it. Hell, almost all services pay 70% to rights holders.

Right now people are not running to Apple Music.

But the good thing is people are listening, they want to consume the product, whereas most have dropped out of Twitter and have no desire to return.

If only Apple could have a continuing freemium element, if only it could issue a mea culpa and admit its flaws and relaunch with a better, simpler, easier to use product…

But that’s impossible, they don’t have the right to go freemium. Oh, they could negotiate to do so, but the major labels don’t want it, they want freemium to go away.


Divorce MP3s from streaming music. Those are two different apps. Just like you took podcasts out of iTunes on the handset.

Focus on breaking acts on Apple Music, not on Beats 1. Where people can go online and listen whenever they want.

Forget Connect.

Break artists on the service. Then the industry will be happy.

But the hundred year war with Spotify has just begun.

And if Spotify could just hire a designer, it’d have a great advantage, Apple’s graphics are so much better.

But the truth is most consumers are sitting on the sideline, because of the bad word of mouth, on Spotify by musicians, on Apple Music by users. And this hurts monetization.

Like I’ve said, we need an “I Want My MTV!” campaign for paid, on demand streaming music services. California gets everyone to reduce water consumption and in music we say if we can’t take a shower all day, we’re fine if everybody goes thirsty and dies of dehydration.

Apple Music was not the solution.

Focus on building the sphere.

And then let the best service succeed.

P.S. And, once again, only one service will win in each territory, one will have 60%+ market share, just like Google in search and the rest of the internet behemoths.

P.P.S. Streaming didn’t kill sound quality and streaming didn’t kill the album and streaming didn’t rob your bank. Stop the blame game and figure out how to win in the new era.

P.P.P.S. This is just the beginning. We’re in the hunt for a new Apple. We may be in the wilderness re UI simplicity and easy usability, that may have died with Steve Jobs, but if you believe Apple’s gonna win in the future, you’re gonna take Tim Cook and Jony Ive to a hackathon. GOOD LUCK WITH THAT!

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