I’ve said this since the launch of Apple Music, but it seems very clear now. “Music” is no longer in Apple’s DNA — hip-hop is what’s important to Apple. Again, it’s a numbers game. More people are listening to that genre than ever before, so Apple can leave the Rock/Blues/Metal acts to another service and still add subscribers using hip-hop exclusives. It’s actually refreshing to see Apple finally admit it.
People like me with an existing music library that rely on the often non-working iTunes Match are no longer Apple’s market. I even opened up a second Apple Music account to see if iTunes Match would work — it didn’t.
In a lot of ways it makes perfect sense that Apple is building a music service that doesn’t require a music library — there’s less hassle and they don’t have to rely on services like iTunes Match to please those customers. Apple is catering to those customers very well. However, it’s a shame they don’t care about the rest of us any more.
Jim Dalrymple writing on The Loop says what I’ve been thinking for a while. His article is a reaction to something that Phil Schiller said, when discussing Apple Music hitting the milestone of 20 million subscribers:
We’ve always thought that hip-hop was underrepresented both in iTunes and in the streaming chart. And more people listen to hip-hop now than ever before so we’ve done a lot of work in that area.
I doubt it was underrepresented anywhere. If people were listening to it, it wasn’t that they were doing so just by pirating music.
But, as Jim Dalrymple says, Apple’s focus on just one genre (well, make it two, with the sort of mass-produced pop that they also highlight) may be good for the numbers now, but it’s alienating a lot of other listeners. Apple honestly doesn’t know how many listeners of other genres may be interested in their service, since they’re turned off by its insistence on highlighting just hip-hop and pop music.
Also, these users are fickle. Jim Dalrymple says:
What Apple will recognize is that the people they attract with exclusives will go to the next music service that has an exclusive without blinking an eye or without any loyalty to Apple. By that time, the base of users that they’ve relied on for years will also be gone.
I’m not sure people will leave that quickly, because it’s still a monthly subscription, bit it is easy to cancel and resubscribe. If Apple wants to keep users, they need to focus not just on the people who stream, but the people who build libraries using Apple Music. Those are the ones who are less likely to switch, because they have a lot invested in the service.