Chris Taylor at Mashable makes some good points about Apple Music's launch — it felt disjointed, disorganized and lacked the usual polish of an Apple product introduction.
From the WWDC demo, the new Music app seems a little confusing and, as I've said before, I think it needs more work in that respect in order to make it more accessible to users.
Connect also feels like an awkward Ping throwback and it's hard to see artists adopting it en masse with the number of social networks they already have to have a handle on.
Turns out we actually want our social networks to be as, well, social as possible. Facebook has the network effect. More than a billion people are there, including most of any given artist's fans. Twitter is important for visibility and immediacy; Instagram for its visual impact. Maybe you're an artist with the resources to hire a social media staff and maintain a presence outside those three services, but it's strictly optional.
Will artists post to Connect rather than directly to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or YouTube? I can't see it happening. Connect is the part of Apple Music I feel least enthusiastic about.
However, I don't think Chris's arguments really warrant the title they are placed under. I'm not here to say Spotify is doomed, but let's take a look at some of the reasons why it needs to be looking over its shoulder.
There are over 700 million iPhones in customers' hands, hundreds of millions more iPads and Macs (not to mention Apple welcoming Windows and Android subscribers). Being available everywhere Spotify is (bar Windows Phone, for now), and being built into the OS on most of those devices, makes it way more likely that people will try out the service and subscribe with the ease of their iTunes account. That three-month trial will no doubt prove very enticing to even the most skeptical of users and gives possible subscribers a great length of time to become accustomed to all that Apple Music offers and really find a place for it in their lives. Three months is a very long time.
On top of that, Apple Music will offer pretty much all of the iTunes catalog at launch. People subscribe for the music, so why wouldn't they choose the service that has the most of it?
Chris also makes a point to compare Apple Music's curation and machine learning to Spotify's user-created playlists. "You can find playlists for just about any artist or TV show or mood under the sun," he writes. The key word there is find. User's have to search and find — often requiring you to know what you're looking for. With Apple Music, like Beats before it, Apple is bringing the music to you proactively, learning from your tastes, taking influence from music industry experts, and letting you hear new music in full.
The cherry on top of the Apple Music offering is Beats 1. I'm still not sure how I feel about it — in many ways it makes no sense at all to try and run a global radio station playing "great" music as there are so many subjectivities involved. However, it's something Spotify doesn't have and it's integrated into iOS in a deep way. If it turns out to be popular, it will become a key differentiator. Keeping the Beats brand for this station, for me, seems like key message as to the target audience for this pseudo side-project — and it's an important demographic to pull in with a streaming service.
In the end, it's a game of attention. And that's a zero-sum game. If Apple can provide users with a place to listen to music in whatever form they want, all in one place, then why would they go anywhere else? If it's built into the device they own with a lengthy free trial, why would they not try it out? If it costs the same (or less with a family plan) and offers more music, why would they not stay and cut ties with other services?
I think Spotify has a lot to be worried about.