USA Today is reporting that Apple Music has 11 million trial users after its first month of use. Quoting Eddy Cue, who said “We’re thrilled with the numbers so far,” the article also points out that July was a record month for Apple’s App Store.
Jimmy Iovine, former music industry executive and Beats co-boss, said he was “pleasantly shocked” by the early numbers. Yet he also said, “For many people outside of the U.S. (Apple Music launched in 100 countries), you still have to explain what it is and how it works,” showing his lack of knowledge about the world. Music streaming took off in Europe long before it did in the US (at least a la carte streaming). Spotify is a Swedish company, and that, and other companies, have been popular in Europe for some time. Spotify is present in more than 60 countries, so, while Apple Music has an edge on territories covered, it’s not like people don’t know what music streaming is. After all, the entire world uses YouTube to stream music.
Is 11 million a lot of trial users? I’m not so sure. Given the publicity around Apple Music, and the fact that Apple has touted having more than 800 million iTunes Store accounts, I’d have expected more people to sign up for the free trial. Granted, you need iOS 8.4 (85% of iOS users are running iOS 8), or a computer recent enough to run iTunes 12, but I’d wager that more than half of the people with iTunes Store accounts have one or the other.
If you assume that, say, 25% of users will convert to paid subscribers, then that leaves Apple with about 3 million subscribers come October, after the initial three-month trial for early adopters ends. (It’s not clear whether Apple will continue three-month trials after this period, or shift to more standard one-month trials.) However, Apple will be releasing an Android app in the fall, expanding its potential user base. (Also, Mr. Cue said that they have 2 million family accounts. So are those 2 million counted as 2 million users, or, say, 6 million, because of, perhaps, an average of three users per family account? If it’s the latter, that means the actual number of individual trial users is quite low.)
Apple Music has been plagued by usability issues and a confusing interface, but for most users, who probably only search for a handful of songs and listen to “curated” playlists, this isn’t a big problem. However, converting serious music fans into paying users won’t be easy. After all, Spotify only has around 20 million paid users around the world, out of 75 million total users, and Spotify has a free, ad-supported tier, which Apple Music does not offer.