Research in the US suggests that Apple's forthcoming music streaming service could obliterate its rivals when it launches later this year.

Tidal may have grabbed all the headlines with its celebrity-packed US relaunch on Monday night, but there was an elephant in the room - Apple's $3bn acquisition of Beats Music and its forthcoming revamp under the iTunes banner.

In a blog post on the MIDIA (Media Insights and Decision in Action) website, Mark Mulligan has been looking at some of the figures behind the streaming market, and how Apple - as ever - could shake things up. It makes fascinating reading.

According to MIDIA's research, nearly a fifth of US consumers say they would would pay $8 a month for an Apple music streaming service, rising to 28% among iOS users. If just 15% of Apple's total 500 million iTunes users adopted the streaming service, that would grow the number of subscribers globally by 75 million - far more than the 15 million paying subscribers Spotify has.

Among existing music subscribers, 63% say they would be "likely to subscribe" to an $8/month Apple service. "Apple has lost a lot of its most valuable download buyers to services such as Spotify, Rdio and Rhapsody and it will expect to win back the music spending of some of those customers," says Mulligan. Whether Apple will succeed in persuading the record companies to allow it to undercut rivals such as Spotify, which charges $10/month for its Premium service, remains to be seen. Rumours suggest the big music industry players aren't keen on the idea.

As for customers who already download music, rather than stream, 39 per cent say they would consider subscribing to an Apple streaming service.

More after the break

Mulligan adds that "it is no coincidence that this [iTunes streaming] will likely be Apple's first app developed for Android too". Winning over customers on both iOS and Android is key.

The report also found that 8 per cent of respondents were "very likely" and 12 per cent "likely" to upgrade to a newer iPhone or iPad if they got a subsidised $6/month music subscription. A special "music edition" iPhone or iPad, with two-year free music subscription, also appealed to 24 per cent of respondents.

"Apple is entering the the subscription music market largely as a defensive measure, to reclaim market leadership and help to slow the leakage of some of its most valuable customers out of the iTunes ecosystem. But if it can find an elegant way to blend the best elements of iTunes Radio, iTunes, Beats Music, Genius and the App Store, it could end up with the most comprehensive music offer on the market."

Apple is expected to unveil its revamped music service at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June.

MORE: Can Tidal take high-quality audio to the mainstream?





happy_hifi's picture

Obvious but sad.........

I predicted the end of downloading and the rise and superiority of streaming in a letter to Hi-Fi World over three years ago now.

They could prove that, if you doubt me.

However, and more to the point.......I find the whole business of streaming to be soul-less and of absolutely no interest to me.

I will not partake in this nonsense, when this nonsense offers no emotive connection to the music, absolutely no interaction physically and basically just says, forget all about researching any bands, don't worry about having to save any money to buy a much wanted record, forget about the excitement of waiting for it to arrive, don't bother to unwrap the parcel or bring the disc home from the retailer, don't even think about the fun of actually touching something and getting a machine to play it for you, never ever again try to sit back and enjoy just the music, no you can only now listen to music whilst walking along a pavement, trying not to get run over whilst crossing a road, 'distracted' as you are by 'music' and the need to take pointless and childlike phone calls at the same time, and lets not forget all of the tweets from the twits who say plenty and yet communicate mostly nothing.



And just in case you believe I am old or a luddite or simply a fuddy duddy. Well fellow What Hi-Fi readers, I'm not.

Have a good day folks.

Graham Luke's picture


Streaming? Soulless?

Oh, right; a black vinyl plate has more soul. Of course, it's 'warmer' and more 'real'

What does it matter how it gets to you, it's about the MUSIC, right?

I recently discovered an internet radio station called 'Big Up Radio - Dub'. It endlessly streams (yes, streams) the kind of music I was listening to 30 years ago and it sounds fantastic over the ol' Sonos.

I couldn't give a monkeys that it hasn't come in a sleeve or that I didn't have to save up all my pocket-money for it; it's just there, 24/7, no talking, no ads, endless. Bloomin' fantastic!

Bogester's picture

Something is undeniably lost, though...

Whether you care or not about owning physical media (CDs, LPs), if they were to disappear completely then some of the pleasure that comes with "consuming" music would undeniably be lost for many people. For example, without physical media what's the point of album artwork? Perhaps you don't care about carefully designed sleeves with notes about where the album was recorded, who produced it, who the musicians were, and so on. I happen to really enjoy this aspect of owning recordings - it brings me closer to and adds interest to the music, it gives me more of an emotional connection to it. And then there's the whole "album" concept - without an actual disc an album ceases to be an album, it becomes a collection of digital files that can be played in any order (what's the point of sequencing the tracks, many people will just play the singles of it, anyway?). The only thing that really ties them together is that they're  electronically "tagged" with an "album" name. 

Just my 2p.


Um's picture

You only predicted it, all by

You only predicted it, all by yourself three whole years ago and you wrote a letter.......... wow! how incredible.

Music streaming to our computers , imagine! Garlic Bread, imagine.

The changeover from physical media to steaming services as a means to listen to music had been obvious for way longer than 3 years.

And there was you thinking you were some kind of Savant.




MajorFubar's picture

It'll have to be better than

It'll have to be better than the damp squib that is iTunes Radio. Apple was spectacularly unable to secure the appropriate rights to launch iTunes radio in various crucial world markets including the UK, the same rigfhts they will have to secure if the streaming service is to take off.

mikey_strat's picture

You can have the best of both worlds

I use spotify regularly, it's a great way of having a full playlist available at the touch of a button especially if say friends are round and I don't want to be flipping LP's over all evening and deciding what to put on next etc.

Streaming services have also enabled me to discover plenty of new music that otherwise I wouldn't have found out about. If I really like something then I'll track it down on vinyl, so since using streaming services I'm actually buying more physical music than at any time over the last 15 years or so.

Streaming allows you to have your cake and eat it, rejecting it out of hand in the way happy-hifi does in their comments above does actually suggest that they are "luddite or simply a fuddy duddy" get with the times man!

Bogester's picture

In full agreement with you

I'm in full agreement with you, actually. Streaming definitely has its place and its uses. My experiences have been similar to yours: I've used the free Spotify service to sample and explore music that I'd have otherwise missed or not bothered to seek out, and in doing so decided that I've liked some of it enough to go out and buy the CD or LP. My hope is that, long term, streaming and physical formats can co-exist happily (I think demand for physical formats will ensure this is the case for some time to come).