When it comes to the streaming market, is Apple’s arrival timed or is it too late? This question is being asked all over the music industry as the iPhone maker prepares for an event on Monday night in San Francisco at which the company is expected to reveal the most dramatic changes to its music offerings since it launched the iTunes store 12 years back and revolutionized the way songs were purchased and sold. The new expected features will include a plan for subscription streaming, which will put the company in direct competition with Spotify. Apart from that, updates will also be made to the iTunes Radio service, which will compete with traditional broadcasters and also Pandora.
This information was revealed by sources with knowledge of the matter who chose to speak anonymously. These changes will allow the US tech giant to embrace streaming music, which has grown rather rapidly in the last couple of years even as there has been a fall in the sales of downloads. Yet, the company will be entering a market where others such as Spotify, Rhapsody, Deezer and several others have already cemented their positions and established a base of loyal music customers. For instance, Spotify is the largest streaming service, which began in 2008 and has a total of 60 million users worldwide, 15 million of whom are paid subscribers.
However, analysts have said that the sheer reach and size of Apple alone (it has sold about 700 million iPhones) can give the firm an advantage over the other players in the market and may enable it to dominate in this rapidly-changing streaming business. Analysts have said that the American smartphone giant isn’t too late, but they have to play catch-up, which means they have to set themselves apart in the rather crowded market.
According to some reports and rumors, Apple is still busy haggling music publishers and record labels in regard to licensing terms. If the talks don’t succeed, it is possible for the company to change or even postpone their announcement. The executives who have revealed this information also said that it has been the norm for Apple to settle and close such deals and negotiations at the eleventh hour. No comment was made by either Apple or record labels. As far as the music companies are concerned, the difficult part is deciding how much Apple should pay with additional features such as a promotional tier where artists can add free content for their fans and extensive radio programming.
The cost of the subscription streaming service will be $10 per month, but a free trial period of two to three months will also be offered. The service is also expected to have a social networking component. An executive of a major-label firm said that it isn’t just their aim to launch a competitor for Spotify, they actually want to provide an all-dancing and all-singing music experience. The iPhone maker’s service is expected to allow radio, streaming and downloads in the redesigned version of its app.