The announcement brings to an end weeks of speculation over Apple’s official numbers, and means the Cupertino giant has attracted an average of around 315,000 sign-ups every day.
Nine million people have signed up to the basic $9.99-per-month package, with two million subscribing to the $14.99-per-month family plan – which allows up to six members of a household to use one account.
Naturally, none of these users are paying for the privilege yet – they’re all enjoying a free three-month trial to Apple Music.
Apple still has some way to go in order to catch Spotify’s 20m paying subscriber base, but it appears to be off to an impressive start.
Cue’s update is the first official indicator we’ve had of Apple Music’s performance since last month, when Apple CEO Tim Cook told investors that “millions and millions” of people had signed up.
Cook also confirmed that 15,000 artists were taking advantage of the platform’s direct-to-fan digital channel, Connect.
“We’re thrilled with the numbers so far.”
Eddy Cue, Apple
Eddy Cue told USA Today: “We’re thrilled with the numbers so far.”
Apple Music appears as a mandatory first-party app when users upgrade to the latest iOS (8.4) and, of course, comes pre-installed on new Apple devices.
Apple Music users might not be putting their hand in their pocket as we stand, then, but that doesn’t mean artists and labels aren’t getting paid.
For independent artists and labels, at least, we’re certain of it.
The battle convince Apple to pay royalties during Apple Music’s free trial period seems a little like a distant memory now – so allow MBW to fire up you recollection powers.
Here, in six topsy-turvy days, is what happened:
Forget what was to happen in the coming days.
Forget the fact Apple was completely unlicensed at this point by independent labels and publishers. Let’s look on the (very) bright side.
Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference is its favourite child. It’s where it shows off its latest software to the people who make its devices must-haves.
But 2015 will always go down, definitively, as the year of Apple Music. Including The Weeknd’s exclusive performance, Apple dedicated close to 40mins of its flagship event solely to music.
It left Apple Music right till the end, and the excitement from the likes of Jimmy Iovine and Eddy Cue over their new product was palpable.
They showed off worldwide live radio station Beats 1, featuring old friend of the indies Zane Lowe, as well as D2F channel Connect and the main draw – Apple Music’s attractive streaming service.
Well that didn’t take long. Despite the glitz of Apple Music’s launch, the indies wake up with a feeling of dread.
The much-anticipated Apple Music contract is with us, and not exactly going down a storm.
The biggest point of upset: an offer of zero royalties for the service’s three-month free trial.
By the evening, the contract leaks online in the US, and pandemonium ensues.
Although Apple is negotiating direct with the independent labels, the usual commercial knight of the indies, Merlin, is offering sage advice.
A note comes through from CEO Charles Caldas, which advises: “The [royalty-free trial] seems likely to us to undermine the download market for that three month period (July to September) – not to mention the effect it could have on other streaming services.
“Furthermore, given it appears these trials will be royalty free, lost iTunes download sales during this period will not be replaced by streaming revenues from the new service.
“Taking all of this into account, we anticipate that any member concerned about the value of their music will carefully consider the impact of such a three month free trial on their business.”
It doesn’t take long for this upset to go public (thanks partly to MBW, granted).
Over the next week, A2IM in the US tells its members “please do not feel rushed to sign Apple’s current offer” as Canadian equivalent CIMA simply says it is ” an outrage that any company, let alone Apple, will refuse to pay independent artists, the labels and the publishers supporting them.”
She is backed up by AIR in Australia, VUT in Germany and UFPI in France.
In a statement to partners, Beggars Group recognises Apple as a “wonderful partner” in the past – but then pulls no punches.
“Given the natural response of competing digital services to offer comparable terms, we fear that the free trial aspect, far from moving the industry away from freemium services – a model we support – is only resulting in taking the ‘mium’ out of freemium.
“We are also naturally concerned, as ever, as to whether we and you are being treated on a level playing field vis a vis the major labels and their artists.”
Noises are now starting to reach the independent community that Apple may be open to renegotiation.
Suggestions that Apple may buckle any day now – and finally offer compensation to the indies for the free trial – are reaching fever pitch.
So it’s the perfect time for the world’s biggest pop star to shove them over the finishing line.
In an open letter entitled ‘Dear Apple, love Taylor’, Taylor Swift tells her fans how “shocked and disappointed” she is that Apple is refusing to pay her artist/producer/songwriter friends for three months.
Cue an international media meltdown.
Later, on the very same day in the States, Apple bigshot Eddy Cue makes amends.
He tweets that Apple will “pay artists for streaming, even during customers’ free trial”, pointedly adding. “We hear you Taylor Swift and indie artists. Love, Apple.”
Independent labels are offered the chance to discuss new terms the very next day.
Having flown to New York to meet with Apple, Merlin boss Charles Caldas – alongside AIM and IMPALA – finally endorses a new Apple Music contract to members.
In a supportive press release of the new terms, AIM includes quotes from independent music biz leaders applauding Apple’s U-turn.
Darius Van Arman, Secretly Group, says: “Apple listened to our community and then revised its music service agreement, demonstrating that it is committed to treating fairly all creators – labels, artists and songwriters. Secretly Group is proud to continue its partnership with Apple towards making music truly indispensable.”
And Martin Mills adds: “Over the last few days we have had increasingly fruitful discussions with Apple. We are now delighted to say that we are happy to endorse the deal with Apple Music as it now stands, and look forward to being a big part of a very exciting future.”
MBW is told that Apple will be paying the indies $0.002 per stream before tax during its free trial period.
Indies sated, Apple may now have an even bigger fight on its hands in the US… all thanks to Spotify.Music Business Worldwide