By Chand Bellur
April 18, 2020 at 9:06 p.m. PT
- Apple Music debuted back in June of 2015, supporting only iOS.
- Apple launched an Android app for its music streaming service in November of 2015.
- This week, Apple finally unveiled a web-based version of Apple Music. Competitors offered WWW streaming years before Apple.
Apple Music Subscribers Can Now Stream on the Web
Apple arrived late to the streaming music scene. Although the Cupertino company saved the music industry with iTunes, their skepticism of streaming kept them out of the fray for years.
The problem with streaming services is that they tend to rip off artists and record labels. Streaming a song only gives rights holders a small fraction of revenues. Essentially, earnings accrue based on the sum of paid subscriptions divided by the total number of songs played. It’s a bit more complicated than that; however, that’s basically how it works.
Thus, if Apple earns $10 million in a month from subscribers, and News Kids on the Block songs account for 1% of total songs streamed, the kids earn $100,000. That’s hardly enough to keep them in Timberlands. But it’s even less than that, because Apple subtracts their costs (operations, administration, marketing, etc.) from the pool of subscription fees. NKOTB have a record label, manager and staff to support.
Suffice it to say; streaming services pay far less than downloads, which pay less than CDs. Through the years, artists have face decreased earnings, relying on live performances to realize sufficient monetary gains.
For a long time, Apple felt that music subscription services were predatory. Then they eventually became the predators themselves. The rationale being — if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Shortly after Apple Music launched, there were some notorious exchanges between Taylor Swift and the Cupertino tech giant. She finally persuaded Apple to pay artists during the free trial period.
Apple Music opened new doors for the tech giant. They created their first real Android app, although, technically, Beats Music should bear that distinction. Finally, this week, Apple released a web-based client for its popular music streaming service. Although they were years behind competitors like Spotify, Google Play Music, and Tidal, it’s better to be late than never to arrive at all.
Streaming on the Web Works Everywhere
Apple and the Web seem to be at odds. For all of the genius of the iPhone, the company isn’t too enthusiastic about the Web. While their arch-rival Google clearly owns the Web, it seems odd to almost ignore such an enormous arena.
The clear advantage of a web-based player is that users can access music from anywhere. While this is possible on an iPhone, suppose you go to a friend’s house for a party. She has a Windows PC hooked up to a stereo, but no music subscription. Previously, you’d have to risk your friendship by installing iTunes on her computer. Now, you can access Apple Music by merely opening a browser window, navigating to the site and logging in.
You’d be surprised at how often this use case happens. Parties thrive on alcohol and music. When anyone can pick their favorite songs from an expansive library, it’s like the best jukebox ever. When one single überknob controls the music, parties often end quickly.
The Apple Music website works much like the app. When you sign in, your favorite artists, albums, songs, and playlists are right at your fingertips.
It took Apple a long time to develop this web app, and it comes at an unfortunate moment. There’s not a lot of partying during a pandemic; however, it won’t last forever. When stay-at-home orders rescind and people return to socializing, Apple Music’s web player may improve house parties across the globe.