Twelve months of Apple Music have brought the service 15 million paid subscribers and, for its architects, a sense of optimistic, if slightly cautious, calm. Or so it looked at the Apple Worldwide Developers’ Conference on Monday afternoon, where Apple senior vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue, vice president of Content and Media Apps Robert Kondrk, Nine Inch Nails frontman and Apple Music Chief Creative Officer Trent Reznor and the still title-less Jimmy Iovine gathered for a talk with Billboard.
Apple’s entry into streaming has been among the most-watched launches in recent music business history — pressure that’s not lost on the executives — but even as a relative newcomer in a crowded market where on-demand leader Spotify boasts twice the subscriber base, its impact has been felt with successes in album windowing (Drake, Chance the Rapper) and its Beats 1 global station, which, thanks to spirit guide and star DJ Zane Lowe, has been well-received.
The next priorities for the platform, according to demos provided at the conference, are an increased emphasis on the service’s popular curated playlists, more intuitive discovery, and video. Apple has hired in the “hundreds,” according to Cue, to see this vision through. Of course, plenty of hurdles remain, not the least of which is appeasing an anxious music industry as it watches revenues from downloads tumble.
To hear the Apple Music brain trust tell it, foremost on their collective mind is the artist, who, they point out, is seeing full rates from their paid service. Still, Reznor notes, he fears for musicians’ future.