Apple is about to make a play to capture a huge part of the music industry and reports indicate that they will launch their new streaming service next week.
As usual the online and technology community are eagerly anticipating another Apple launch. However this time it is not a new piece of hardware that has everybody excited but a new streaming service to combat the likes of Spotify, Pandora and Tidal.
Apple already offers its own free ad-supported streaming service in the form of iTunes Radio which was announced at WWDC in 2013. However, according to the Wall Street Journal, the new paid streaming service will include human-curated and even human-hosted channels, which reportedly including the likes of hip-hop musicians Q-Tip, Drake, and Dr. Dre.
READ: Spotify has a plan so that you never leave it
Apple Music's Goal
Apple Music will also be attempting to drag Spotify’s 45 million free listeners (who get ad-supported access to millions of songs) into a $10/month subscription fee and absorb the already existing Apple and Beats fans into a dominant audience.
Apple Music's main problem
Apples brand and buying power is well known. It is a master at creating a buzz around its products. The forthcoming streaming service announcement and every ipod/pad/phone launch is testament to that. No doubt Apple will also have the streaming service capabilities and names to back it its entrance (albeit late) into the market. However Apple faces a stark uphill battle.
Apple’s attempt to take any significant amount of streaming subscribers away from Spotify is not an easy task. Spotify and Pandora have loyal and a longstanding customer base. They will of course attract some users who wan to bask in the Apple eco-sphere but, the vast majority of streaming users have adopted Spotify as “the” streaming service of choice. To change that, Apple will significantly need to change the game.
The big question: is it up to the task?
We have compiled a list of the 10 things you need to know ahead of the Apple launch next week.
1. Apple’s share price is set to surge
As CNBC’s show Fast Money reports, Apple share prices have been relatively flat over the past few months but if its history is anything to go by share prices are set to increase and subsequently pull in a potential haul of US1.6 billion dollars. Not solely attributed to Apple Music, Fast Money say this potential increase is down to market changes, Apple released bond options and company tech acquisitions. However what it does indicate is that Apple is increasingly raising collateral to make a dent in markets they feel are set to grow and are laying there money on the line in the process.
2. Apple will launch their new service next week
According to WJS, Apple reportedly plans to announce the launch of a new streaming service during its developers' conference next week, which is in line with previous tech announcements – ensuring that the eyes will be focused on Apple and its products much in the same way it launches his hardware like iPhones/Pads and Pods.
3. It will be launched at the The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference
The company is expected to launch Apple Music on stage at its WWDC event on June 8. You have seen it before. Imagine a middle-aged man walking on stage with an iPad, wearing glasses and a black shirt. Sadly there will be no Steve Jobs but Tim Cook, now Apple's CEO, will no doubt be on hand with some words of wisdom.
4. Apple streaming will cost $10 per month
According to the WJS, the new service would cost users $10 per month, similar to rates charged by streaming competitors Spotify and Tidal. Apple's offering comes as paid downloads on its iTunes music platform dwingle over pressure from streaming. Spotify and Tidal also charge their users $10 a month, but Spotify offers a 50 percent student discount while Tidal offers a HiFi version of its service for $20.
We do not yet know what Apple will use as their hook to lure customers away from streaming competitors.
5. Apple has the brand and money to make it work
As Tech Crunch reports, Apple has the brand power, and the attention of a huge music-buying public, working for it. It has also proven itself at expanding its media offerings across the world better than major rivals including Google and Amazon. As Bloomberg reported in November last year, Apple has a valuation of US$700 billion. To put that in perspective; Microsoft has a market capitilisation of 391 billion followed by Google at 370 billion.
Tidal was valued by Aspiro earlier this year at a much smaller $250 million after Jay Z purchased the Swedish company for $56 million. CNBC reported at the beginning of May that Spotify raised $350 million in a recent round of funding to push it's valuation to $8 billion, twice that of Pandora. If it comes down to who has the most cash in the bank, Apple has a clear lead.
6. Apple Music will most likely be available from September
Apple will most likely only introduce the public to its new streaming music service next week and will not be made available right away to users. Historically, Apple unveils its next major OS updates at the Worldwide Developer Conference keynote and then launches a developer preview of the update and its features ahead of a wider launch in September alongside new hardware.
7. Beats will still be around after Apple Music launch
Apple is thought to be basing its business partially on its Beats acquisition, which made Dr Dre a billionaire, though the company will apparently continue to offer Beats Music after launching its new streaming music service.
READ: How Beats by Dre played you like a fool
8. Apple are launching into a untapped and extremely lucrative market
On top of Spotify and Tidal, Apple would have to compete with Internet radio Pandora in an increasingly crowded space. However no single company has a monopoly on the streaming market and as users grow, so will the amount of companies looking to grab a slice of the pie.
9. Apple has by no means solved the label problem
Apple have a huge share of the market when it comes to music downloads with iTunes but as the latest BPI data shows, streaming is fast overtaking downloads and Apple know too well that getting ahead is paramount to staying ahead/catching up with the competition. Apple hasn't yet sealed deals with three major labels, including Warner Music Group, which might represent a roadblock to the new venture.
The problem: Labels and artists hate FREE streaming
Big label and artists have for years rallied against the idea of streaming as it pulls revue away from physical sales. Artists are become increasingly vocal about their feelings towards the likes of Spotify. There used to be one band with the courage to do this sort of thing: Metallica. But now, there are dozens of high-profile artists like David Lowery, Thom Yorke, Amanda Palmer, Wil.I.Am as well as Jay-Z & co. leading a previously-unthinkable level of protest against streaming and content devaluation.
Sony and other labels have been yanking music from Soundcloud in a bid to stem the flow of free music online. Apple as well as other streamers are tasked with finding a middle ground that balances the costs to the consumer with the happiness of the artists they rely upon.
10. Its not just streaming, Apple are entering into virtual reality
Apple recently purchased a company called Metaio, a piece of augmented reality software which adds images or information to real life scenes. It has been used by Ferrari to give potential customers a tour of a car. Apple has not revealed what they will do with the technology but speculation from say it could used for Maps or for its new virtual reality headset it patented earlier this year.
How to watch the WWDC 2015 keynote livestream
f you want to watch WWDC 2015 live (the webcast livestream, or a liveblog of the announcements), you've got a number of options. Apple has announced that, as usual, it will stream live coverage of the keynote presentation on its site - the WWDC 2015 keynote livestream will appear on apple.com/live on Monday night shortly before 6pm UK time.
Officially, the WWDC 2015 keynote livestream can only be viewed by those using Apple products: it'll run on a Macs, iPad or iPhone, as well as on the Apple TV, but not on Windows PCs and Android smartphones and tablets.
The universal media player software VLC can decode the livestream quite happily.