How to Fix Apple Music, in Four Easy Steps

They made some changes, sure. But more are needed.

By Matt Wink

How to Fix Apple Music, in Four Easy Steps
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21 June 2016

A few months ago, rumors started to circulate that Apple would be making some major moves to revamp Apple Music.

To appropriate what Chicago poet Kanye West once wrote, every rumor you ever heard about it was true and legendary.

Well, true at least. The legendary part is still a question mark. Last week at the company’s WWDC conference, senior VP Eddy Cue announced that Apple Music had been “redesigned from the ground up.”

This redesign focused on the visual aesthetics, the improvements on which may just make Apple the sexiest of all the streaming services (unless you just love that Spotify neon green). An emphasis on album artwork with a black-and-white scheme anchors the design, lyrics are more accessible and they even made sharing snippets via iMessage a thing.

The big question is, does this put Apple Music — and it’s now 15 million subscribers — at the top of the streaming game?

Pandora and Spotify have seen lesser foes drown in their wake since the turn of the decade (Rhapsody Napster is probably next). The latter recently announced they’ve now grown to 30 million paid subscribers (and 100 million user overall) and claim to have actually grown faster since Apple Music launched. And Tidal, bugs and all, has cornered the market on exclusive releases.

So what can Apple Music really do to vault back up to where you would expect an Apple product to be?

For starters, let’s talk about that battle for exclusive releases. Ye and Bey made the first moves there, but Apple recently struck back with the exclusive release of Chance the Rapper’s third “mixtape,” Coloring Book. Chance has never sold one song, and Apple ran with this marketing, hyping a free three-month trial and an iCloud save feature that keeps the album free while also allowing people to explore and get hooked on the service. They also owned social media with memes, gifs and a brilliant Snapchat that gave followers a black-and-white image in their story to screenshot and color in as they saw fit. Finding the right exclusives going forward — and the ones that build the right buzz — will be key.

Secondly, they need to make it sync better with the iTunes library. Some links take you to where you can buy the song, some to where you can stream it. But it all looks the same. Apple is rumored to be moving away from iTunes downloads altogether soon (or not), but in the meantime, they need to differentiate between to the two more effectively.

Make playlists collaborative. Playlists are a huge reason why Spotify continues its stranglehold on the streaming game. You can make a playlist on Apple and share it … but it’s not collaborative.

Finally, push the original content more. Beats 1 is awesome! Artists who are usually closed off in interviews feel more human when talking to their peers in an open, no-editing-needed environment. Plus, you get original shows from A-level artists and tastemakers like Drake, HAIM and Zane Lowe. Neither Spotify nor Tidal, even with their huge roster of backers, can boast this ... though Spotify is going to try with 12 original video shows (that don’t sound all that great). The people need to hear Beats 1 (and its possible spinoffs), but first they need to hear about it.

But the biggest strike against them? Much of Spotify, unlike Apple Music, is still free.

Your move, ghost of Jobs.

Main image: John Steel / Shutterstock

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