Apple Music subscribers face a deadline as initial trial period comes to a close
With over 15 million having signed up for the service, even if millions cancel there will still many others who either forget to cancel, or like the service enough to stay with it
There was likely a very good reason Apple chose to only offer three months of free access to Apple Music and have its free trial period end September 30: it’s the end of the quarter. As a former newspaper and magazine publisher, having to deal with those damn P&Ls, I would have done the exact same thing. Come the earnings conference call at the end of October, Apple CEO Tim Cook will be able to brag up the trends for Apple Music without having to give any hard numbers (sort of like Jeff Bezos does all the time when it comes to Kindle Fire sales figures).
This isn’t a criticism, not at all. Just business. But millions, around 15 million, Apple Music subscribers will soon be making a decision: continue with Apple Music and pay $9.99 a month, or cancel it now before they get billed?
Just how many people are using Apple Music now? That seems to be in dispute. More than 11 million signed up early on, recently that number rose to 15 million. But a survey by MusicWatch in August said almost half have stopped using the service. Apple quickly disputed the number saying 79 percent were still using it, according to The Verge.
An Apple executive recently expressed optimism, saying they are not concerned if a large number of listeners cancel their service this week, a large enough number will remain – either because they made a decision to do so, or forgot to cancel – that the service can honestly be called an instant success.
I signed up for Apple Music – just as you probably did (assuming you have an iOS device) – and so am facing the cancel/stay decision. Later today I’ll make that decision, but here are some observations:
Apple News works far better than Beats Music did. My biggest complaint with Beats was that once Apple owned it, my account would stop working every month because the app would not recognize me as a customer and I would have to call Apple support, who immediately turned it back on again. That gets annoying after the third or fourth month. With Apple Music, though, there have been no such problems.
The biggest complaint from media observers about the Apple Music is that the app, a redesigned version of the iOS music app: is clunky, crowded, poorly designed.
A great example of this is Home Sharing.
Apple took away Home Sharing with a previous iOS update, something that really, really bothered me, as I used it all the time. It’s back with iOS 9 but good luck figuring out how to turn it on. (The answer is that one goes to “My Music” then tap on “Artists” at the top to open up a box of options – there, at the bottom of your options is Home Sharing.)
Once you know where it is finding again isn’t a problem, getting it to work is. Despite a strong WiFi home network I find that on my iPhone it rarely works. (Home Sharing is works fine on my Apple TV, however.)
But Home Sharing has nothing to do with Apple Music, that it often doesn’t work for me is an issue with iOS 9, my network, or whatever. It is just another app that I find inferior to the apps being developed for iOS from third parties (especially Google, who seem to understand iOS better than Apple does).
So, what about the service itself? I have few complaints. I know that whatever music might be missing from the service is missing from other services, as well. It is a rights issues – some artists are dead set against streaming music services, while some labels (like ECM) are almost completely missing.
Others have gone the other way. Jordi Savall, who is producing amazing book CDs (see here) recently sent out an email informing listeners that they could stream his latest CD on Spotify before deciding to buy.
The good news is that no decision is irreversible. If you fail to cancel today or tomorrow, you an always do so next week. If you do cancel, you can resubscribe at any time. Apple is not making you sign a two year contract like Comcast or AT&T. I suppose the folks in Cupertino are confident that over the long haul they will improve their service, their app, enough to lure millions of users. They are probably right.