One of the biggest updates announced for iOS 10 centers around the new design of Apple Music, which the company hopes will simplify its music streaming service into one that better introduces its users to new favorite songs, and is less of a hassle to navigate than the current version.
To discuss the nuances of the revamped service, Eddy Cue, Jimmy Iovine, Trent Reznor, and Robert Kondrk sat down with Billboard, commenting on the importance of Beats 1, the steady growth of Apple Music, and the much-talked-about slow death of downloaded music in iTunes.
Billboard asked Cue and Reznor about a "streaming-only future," but the former reassured fans who prefer to download music by saying that "there's no end date" to paid music services like iTunes, which "is doing very well," Cue said. Reznor admits that such a future is probably inevitable, but doesn't see why paid and streaming music couldn't coexist simultaneously, similar to the niche buyers market of vinyl records today.
Eddy Cue: There’s no end date, and as a matter of fact, they should all be surprised and thankful to the results that they’re seeing because our music iTunes business is doing very well. Downloads weren’t growing, and certainly are not going to grow again, but it’s not declining anywhere near as fast as any of them predicted or thought it would. There are a lot of people who download music and are happy with it and they’re not moving towards subscriptions. We talked about subscriptions bringing a lot of new customers in, people who have never bought music. And if you look at Apple’s music revenue on a quarterly basis, because of subscriptions and because of sales, it’s now higher; it’s actually growing, which is great for the labels.
Trent Reznor: It feels as though we’ve turned a corner in terms of the adoption of streaming. I think it’s inevitable that downloads will diminish, much like CDs. But I’ve started buying vinyl -- probably out of nostalgia, but also there’s something about a physical thing that has meaning to me as an artist. I think coexistence can take place.
When addressing the concern that Beats 1 wasn't directly mentioned during the WWDC keynote, Iovine promised that "Beats 1 is going to be creating a lot more content as well," besides being a part of the overall Apple Music design change. This content encompasses video, according to Iovine, who didn't directly mention which rumored scripted TV project this might entail, but said the team is currently focusing on the "impact" the radio service has as part of the overall music ecosystem at Apple.
As usual, Cue wasn't ready to divulge specific numbers regarding the conversion rates of users transferring from Apple Music's three month free trial to a paid subscription, but he did say that the team has "been very happy with the results we’ve seen." As confirmed during yesterday's keynote, the service has also reached 15 million subscribers a few weeks ahead of its one year anniversary later in June.
You can read the full interview between Billboard and the Apple Music executives here.