Are you one of the 15 million or so Apple Music users? Maybe you’re one of the 6.5 million who is paying for Apple Music after the three-month trial ended.
Apple CEO Tim Cook sure hopes you are.
Cook was interviewed by Wall Street Journal editor Gerry Baker about all things Apple on Monday night, and one major talking point was Apple Music, Apple’s streaming music service meant to compete with the likes of Spotify and Rdio. Cook gave the numbers seen above, and he spoke to why 6.5 million people (so far) are sticking with the service — coughing up the monthly subscription fee of $US10, even — after the three-month free trial ended.
“People love the human curation,” Cook said. This is a refrain often heard from Apple Music execs.
Most recently, Beats cofounder Jimmy Iovine told the Evening Standard: “Algorithms don’t understand the subtlety and the mixing of genres. So we hired the best people we know. Hired hundreds of them.” Iovine was referencing the creation of Beats 1, the Apple Music radio service hosted by real DJs all the time, as well as Apple Music’s playlists and discovery sections.
Cook and Iovine aren’t wrong: human curation is important. And it’s something the competition’s been doing for years now, even if Apple makes it sound like they’re not.
More likely than being one of Apple Music’s 15 million subscribers, you’re one of the 75 million people using Spotify (20 million of which are paid members).
One major reason people continue to use and pay $US10/month for Spotify? Human-curated discovery and playlist sections, which the company has been doing for some time now.
Part of what makes them so good is Spotify’s algorithmic approach to music curation. Spotify spent $US100 million buying a company called “The Echo Nest,” which spends its time analysing music listener habits across a variety of criteria. The 70-person group is a crucial component of why Spotify can feel personalised to each user.
But just as important — arguably more important — is Spotify’s 32-person international team of human curators. Here’s just one example care of Tech Insider’s Alex Heath from back in September:
There’s another Spotify playlist I subscribe to called “RapCaviar,” which is described as “the freshest fifty songs on the rawest hip hop playlist ever.” This playlist, which is updated weekly, is the brainchild of Spotify’s resident hip hop expert, Tuma Basa, a veteran DJ with decades of experience at networks like BET and MTV. It’s one of 4,500 playlists, with names like “Air, Sex & Water” and “Pop Punk Mania,” produced by Spotify’s team of 32 music experts around the world.
Yes, Apple, human music curation is totally important. It’s also something that Spotify — the competition — has been doing for years now. And it doesn’t differentiate Apple Music at all. It’s great! It’s useful! And it’s nothing new.
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