When Apple Music was launched last summer, Apple enlisted rap superstar Drake to come onstage and promote Connect, a music-focused social network built to give fans “a single place to connect with your favourite artists.”
“The dream of being a new artist, like myself five years ago, and connecting directly with an audience has never been more close than right now,” Drake said. “Instead of having to post your stuff on all these different and sometimes confusing places, it all lives in one very simple, very easy place, and that’s Connect.”
Less than a year later, Apple seems poised to end its second music-focused social media network. Mark Gurman at 9to5Mac says that sources tell him that Apple will demote Connect from its premium placement within the Apple Music App. In addition, Connect is most likely not going to get new features this year.
The report says that Connect’s not dead, but its hard not to see parallels with iTunes Ping, Apple’s last attempt at a social network, launched in 2010. It failed to gain traction and was killed two years later. “We tried Ping and the customer voted and said, this isn’t something I want to put a lot of energy into. Some customers love it, but there’s not a huge number that do,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in 2012.
Although I’m an Apple Music subscriber and daily user, I rarely visit the Connect tab, and it’s not difficult to see that the service hasn’t been the success Apple hoped it was going to be. It’s a bit of a ghost town.
Even though I’m “following” 36 artists, only Drake and Blink-182 are directly posting updates, and the number of likes and comments range from the double to triple digits.
Compare that to Instagram, where very similar posts get thousands of likes within minutes.
At the very least, Apple’s vision of a Soundcloud competitor seems to have been unsuccessful. Few if any indie artists have gone to a Connect-first distribution strategy, and even when Drake released a few high-profile “diss” songs last fall, they were posted on Soundcloud even though they premiered on Apple’s online radio station.
Drake’s latest album, however, remains an Apple Music exclusive. Apple Music currently has 13 million paying subscribers, according to Apple, and will get a major “reboot” this June.