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Apple continues to copy Spotify with their upcoming update to Apple Music, adding a Browse feature lifted from its competitor. Even the button shapes are exactly like Spotify. Related artists are displayed in circles, just like Spotify. Apple just made their app white and put the “tab” buttons on the bottom. Now, to add insult to injury, they are extorting Spotify because, like many other apps, they sell their subscription outside of the app. This actually makes sense because the subscription is for multiple devices, not just your iPhone. It could create confusion if someone bought a Spotify subscription on their PC, only to be met with an in-app pay wall on their iPhone. That’s not the main reason Spotify is doing this, but in-app purchases do muddle the UI for cross-platform services.
Apple Music Isn’t Saving the Music Industry
Unfortunately, there is some backlash against Spotify. Some Apple fans really took a big swig of the Kool Aid and believe that Apple pays artists much more than Spotify. This is simply not true.
Taylor Swift had to shame Apple into paying rights holders for the free trial subscribers. You can find “evidence” that Apple pays $0.0002 more per track than Spotify. This figure changes, as it is based on the number of subscribers and number of tracks played. Critics of Spotify love to tout this meaningless, outdated, constantly fluctuating statistic. The most important figure is total compensation, as rights holders don’t pay costs associated with the number of tracks played. They are only slightly affected by high subscriber engagement, as Spotify’s operation costs increase.
The fact that Spotify has almost 10 times as many users means that artists make more. Artists on Spotify get far more tracks played. Payments per track are completely meaningless. That’s not how the music subscription business works. Tracks are used to portion out the revenues amongst artists. The per-track revenues change every month. The service with the most subscribers pays out the most to artists.
Apple Music doesn’t even come close to Spotify when it comes to compensating artists. Spotify is transparent about their business model. As they get more subscribers, artists make more money. Spotify boasts about how much money they have paid to rights holders. The grumbling about Spotify “ripping off” artists has become muted, as they pay more than any other streaming music service. Tidal may pay more per track, but they have a very small user base. Don’t be fooled by tech writers and bloggers who use payment-per-track as an indication of artist’s compensation.
Where’s Apple’s explanation? Jimmy Iovine claims that they are saving the music industry. How? It’s more dishonesty from Apple, just like their privacy claims.
Spotify’s Free Service is a Public Good
If you’re looking for the moral high ground with Apple Music, they don’t offer a free service. Not everyone can afford $10 a month. I think it’s a good thing that people without the means can listen to Spotify (albeit at low resolution) and have it subsidized with advertising. With Apple Music, there’s no free option. Apple even removed their free, ad-subsidized iTunes Radio service. (continue…)