Music

Is Apple Music struggling?

Apple doesn't get a lot wrong, particularly when it comes to music (let's forget U2).

After all, it revolutionised the entire music industry with the invention of the iPod - the first mass-uptake mp3 player - and then revolutionised song delivery in the form of iTunes - the first mass-uptake download store.

However, it's been seemingly slow on the uptake with the next musical movement, digital streaming. Launching its Apple Music service, together with radio station Beats One, at the end of last month, way after the likes of Spotify, Deezer and the rest, with its first move being to anger Taylor Swift (as well as a lot of other independent artists) by not paying for its three month free trial - a decision it immediately rectified.

Now, it seems that it could already be in more serious trouble than that initial stumble, both in terms of the service itself, and the number of people using it.

Swifty: Apple beef

Respected Apple blogger Jim Dalrymple has launched a scathing attack on the service with a post entitled "Apple Music is a nightmare and I'm done with it", an impressive turnaround given that he was given access prior to launch and declared that he was "damned impressed". Amongst the many criticisms are:

-"Adding music to my library is nothing short of a mind-blowing exercise in frustration... whenever I added an album to my library, not all of the songs would get added"

-Apple Music sometimes thinks songs are already added when they aren't

-Apple Music will often double up on the same track with Greatest Hits

-"Other strange things have happened too. For instance, I added ZZ Top’s “The Very Baddest” album. Instead of downloading all of the songs from that album, it downloaded them from multiple albums. So now I have several ZZ Top albums, each with a few songs on them."

-"None of my devices seem to sync, so my Macs don’t have the same songs that my iPhone has, and neither of them match my iPad"

And, king of them all:

-"I turned off Apple Music and it took large chunks of my purchased music with it. Sadly, many of the songs were added from CDs years ago that I no longer have access to. Looking at my old iTunes Match library, before Apple Music, I’m missing about 4,700 songs"

While Dalrymple may be a single user, he adds that, "There are threads on Apple’s support forums detailing similar issues to the ones I’m having, and I’ve noticed tweets in my stream reporting the same problems."

Most damningly of all, it seems these problems may not go away as he says, "Nobody I’ve spoken at Apple or outside the company has any idea how to fix it, so the chances of a positive outcome seem slim to none."

Tim Cook: Smiling now but will he be in a few months?

Meanwhile, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke for the first time on the uptake of the new service on Tuesday. He said "Millions and millions of customers are already experiencing the new service, using the three-month trial service, and the numbers are growing substantially every day... Millions of listeners around the world are tuning in to listen to Beats 1, a first-of-its-kind worldwide radio station featuring some of the most talented and passionate music lovers on the planet."

We'd cautiously say that 'Millions' is a very vague measurement. When Apple is doing well, it normally tells you exactly how well. iTunes currently has 575 million active user accounts and, while it's clearly not fair to judge this early, it's worth noting that Spotify currently has 75 million active users, with 20 million subscribers. 

Assuming Apple's userbase is less than 'tens of millions', the Swedish streamers will surely be pretty happy with that. It's also worth bearing in mind that this is Apple Music's free trial period - will people stick around after that, given the apparent problems with the user experience? If they choose not to pay, there is no free tier where they can stay and regain trust in the service; which could be a major headache for Apple Music in the future.

Of course - this could all be the bad experience of one lone user. Is Apple just as good as ever, or has its record-breaking iPhone sales just shown that it doesn't really care about the smaller things any more? 

How have you found the service? Let us know below.

(Images: Rex)