Apple Music, the Cupertino company’s rebranded take on the Beats streaming platform it acquired last year, has been fleshed out regularly by insiders in recent weeks, despite not being due to get its official unveiling until June 8th.
The service, including a new–look iTunes Radio, is due to form part of an updated iOS Music app, designs of which have leaked extensively thanks to eagle–eyed developers.
News this week suggests that Apple is trying to get big-name artists on side, with Pharrell and David Guetta being lined up for DJ spots on iTunes Radio. Former-Radio 1 man Zane Lowe is also set to contribute.
But what’s perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this new service isn’t the radio option.
Rather, it’s the fact that Apple wants to offer its new streaming service free of charge to iPhone and iPad users for the first three months.
This would clearly be an attempt to entice users over from Spotify and other iOS–based services like Deezer and Rdio.
While that isn’t anything new in itself, Apple is said to be locked in a battle with record labels about the rights of the music streamed during the mooted three-month period with no charge.
Quite simply, it doesn’t want to pay for it and is believed to have told the labels as much.
For big names like Guetta and Pharrell, that’s not a huge deal. But for independent artists already struggling to scrape a living in the Spotify age, this is downright idiocy on Apple’s part.
How it expects the people whose product it’s serving up to create new music without being paid is baffling.
It’s also a dangerous move by Apple. Tim Cook and co have seen iTunes downloads slump as streaming gets ever bigger.
Apple is very late to the party and it knows it, so offering freebies makes sense.
But there’s no doubt that Apple can dip into its vast cash reserves and pay labels to cover rights while users try out the service without paying. That it seems to be saying it can’t is disingenuous at best.
It’s also a surefire way to rub artists up the wrong way. While Jay–Z’s Tidal platform has its issues, at least artists are front and centre.
Apple might be planning an artists-only social network as part of Apple Music, but you can bet musicians would rather get the money.
Increasingly, consumers are aware of these stories too. There appears to be a growing shift to wanting artists to be rewarded for their work, something which Apple would do well to remember.
If it wants Apple Music to succeed, it needs to have artists and labels on board and being paid properly. Failing to do so would be nothing short of a disgrace.