Editorial: Apple Music will wipe out free streaming

Remember MP3 players and music libraries? Neither do we — words like Spotify and Pandora are now practically ingrained into our everyday vernacular, replacing the language of the past.

And after Monday’s Apple Music launch, we might not remember what free music streaming is, either.

Apple Music, Apple’s new streaming platform, will hit the market on June 30. While there is a free three-month trial, the service costs $9.99 a month for continued service. However, the costs are much greater than just a recurring fee of ten dollars. With its sizable influence in the music industry, Apple is trying to keep music labels from renewing Spotify’s license to stream music through its free tier.

Essentially, Apple is trying to kill off free streaming services in favor of platforms with a base level cost (like its own) — and while it might seem the opposite at first, that’s dangerous to musicians.

According to NPD Group’s “Annual Music Study 2012,” music pirating decreased by 26 percent between 2011 and 2012 — largely due to the ease and availability of streaming services like Spotify. If we eliminate free music streaming tiers, there is an increased likelihood that illegal file-sharing will rise again.

 And that means less money for the artists — exactly what Apple says it’s trying to prevent by introducing required tiered plans.

Of course, some users will fork over $9.99 rather than resort to Pirate Bay for illegal downloading.

But given Spotify’s current situation, it doesn’t seem likely that Apple will get its desired results. While Spotify offers an ad-supported, free-to-play model, as well as a $9.99 premium plan, only 15 percent of its 60 million-strong user base are actually paying for the service, according to a New York Times article from May.

So how does Apple plan to pay artists for their songs’ plays on Apple Music? Hopefully, Apple will compensate artists fairly. Otherwise, Apple is just creating a new conundrum for the already murky music industry.

Until Apple officially releases data on how it intends to compensate musicians for their work, stay away from Apple Music.

There’s no doubt that we’re dealing with dangerous fruit.

 

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