Analysis

How are artists actually using Apple Music Connect?


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When Apple announced its Apple Music streaming service in June, I was most intrigued by the potential of its Connect feature: a blend of SoundCloud, Instagram and Twitter, where artists would post music, videos and photos as well as status updates – all living within a streaming service.

It sounded exciting, but there was also the spectre of Ping – Apple’s last attempt at a music-focused social network – looming in the background. Would artists properly take to Connect in a way they didn’t to Ping? It’s now 10 weeks since Apple Music launched on 30 June, so it seems like a good time to find out.

This morning, I’ve been browsing the Connect profiles of a range of artists to gauge how often they’re posting and what form their posts take.

It’s a snapshot, but one that should be informative on the early days of Connect – and particularly on its potential to provide artists with a new way to reach their fans in the place they’re listening to music, with no danger of getting lost in Twitter’s chronological timeline or being filtered out by Facebook’s news feed algorithm.

tl;dr – the artists that are on Connect are posting weekly rather than daily; lots of those posts are re-posted Instagram pics or promotional messages; and OMG Taylor Swift hasn’t even got a Connect profile.

Workings follow. I started with a group of musicians who should be using Apple Connect lots: the headliners of this month’s Apple Music Festival. The number of Connect posts they’ve published since the service went live is in brackets:

Ellie Goulding (43)
Take That (3)
Carrie Underwood (9)
One Direction (6)
The Weeknd (4)
The Chemical Brothers (not on Connect)
Disclosure (22)
Pharrell Williams (1)
Mumford & Sons (10)
Florence + The Machine (10)

That’s a total of 108 posts in the 10 weeks since Apple Music launched. Leaving out no-shows the Chemical Brothers, that means an average of 1.2 posts a week for each of the nine artists that are using Connect.

Next, I widened my research out to a selection of popular-right-now artists, starting with the 20 top musicians in the US iTunes albums chart:

The Weeknd (4)
Five Finger Death Punch (7)
Troye Sivan (13)
Travis Scott (not on Connect)
Taylor Swift (not on Connect)
Halsey (20)
Iron Maiden (13)
Twenty One Pilots (not on Connect)
Luke Bryan (9)
Scarface (5)
Lana Del Rey (12)
J. Cole (not on Connect)
Fall Out Boy (14)
Pentatonix (5)
Mumford & Sons (10)
Dr Dre (14)
Sam Hunt (not on Connect)
K Camp (4)
5 Seconds of Summer (22)
Bring Me The Horizon (15)

That’s 167 posts in 10 weeks from the 15 artists on this list who are using Connect: an average of 1.1 posts a week each. Next, I looked at the first 20 artists in the US iTunes singles chart:

Justin Bieber (6)
The Weeknd (4)
R. City (9)
Taylor Swift (not on Connect)
Shawn Mendes (4)
Drake (6)
Silentó (not on Connect)
Charlie Puth (4)
Fetty Wap (2)
Rachel Platten (2)
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (4)
One Direction (6)
Hailee Stenfeld (not on Connect)
Major Lazer (22)
Skrillex (not on Connect)
Diplo (13)
Elle King (not on Connect)
Luke Bryan (9)
@iHeartMemphis (not on Connect)
Demi Lovato (19)

That’s 110 posts for the 14 artists in this list who are using Connect: an average of 0.8 posts a week each. And while this is a good snapshot of people who have popular releases at the moment, for a longer-term popular list, I ran a similar check for the top 20 musicians on Facebook:

Shakira (2)
Eminem (6)
Rihanna (not on Connect)
Michael Jackson (not on Connect)
Bob Marley (1)
Justin Bieber (6)
Taylor Swift (not on Connect)
Katy Perry (not on Connect)
Beyoncé (not on Connect)
Linkin Park (10)
Lady Gaga (11)
Adele (not on Connect)
Pitbull (22)
Bruno Mars (not on Connect)
Selena Gomez (6)
David Guetta (12)
Avril Lavigne (3)
Akon (not on Connect)
Lil Wayne (not on Connect)
Enrique Iglesias (9)

That’s 88 posts for the 11 artists on this list who are using Connect: an average of 0.8 posts a week each. Bear in mind that not all of them are currently in a promotional post-release cycle. Even so, it surprised me that Rihanna, Katy Perry, Beyoncé and – especially – Taylor Swift aren’t using Connect.

What about more niche artists? I tried the top 20 artists from Pitchfork’s ranked best new albums list:

Empress Of (3)
FKA Twigs (2)
Beach House (1)
Dr Dre (14)
Future (5)
Tame Impala (1)
Miguel (not on Connect)
Vince Staples (1)
Thundercat (not on Connect)
Donnie Trumpet (not on Connect)
Jamie XX (2)
Nao (2)
Holly Herndon (not on Connect)
Shamir (not on Connect)
Jim O’Rourke (not on Connect)
Prurient (not on Connect)
Kamasi Washington (not on Connect)
Young Thug (not on Connect)
Lower Dens (1)
Jlin (not on Connect)

That’s 32 posts for the 10 artists on this list who are using Connect: an average of 0.3 posts a week each – although Dre Dre is accounting for nearly half of those posts, and he’s an Apple employee.

Finally, I tried a more personal list: the 20 current artists who I’ve been listening to most in 2015:

Ibeyi (11)
Courtney Barnett (4)
Kitty, Daisy & Lewis (not on Connect)
Jungle (13)
Cate Le Bon (not on Connect)
Hinds (not on Connect)
Django Django (not on Connect)
Laura Marling (not on Connect)
Hot Chip (not on Connect)
Gaz Coombes (1)
The Staves (2)
Shamir (not on Connect)
Taffy (not on Connect)
Aurora (9)
Tame Impala (1)
Best Coast (4)
Farao (not on Connect)
Death Team (7)
The Internet (not on Connect)
Gwenno (not on Connect)

Nine of my current 20 favourite artists are using Connect, and they’ve posted 52 times – so an average of 0.6 times a week each. And this chart means nothing to anyone but me, but that’s also why it might be the most important list in this article: because these are the artists who should be making up my own Connect feed on Apple Music, encouraging me to check in every day to see what’s been posted.

From the numbers above alone, it’s clear that so far, Connect has been less about daily posts – unlike Twitter and Facebook – and more about a weekly update at best.

What are they posting? Two kinds of posts seem to be dominating Connect: photos – often cross-posted from Instagram, which suggests that artists (or often their social teams) think Instagram’s visual aesthetic and Apple’s new social service. And secondly promotional messages: encouraging fans to stream songs or albums on Apple Music, pre-order albums on iTunes, or – in the case of artists who are involved with the Beats 1 radio station – posts about their shows.

What’s missing, so far, is the kind of exclusive, engaging stuff promised at the Apple Music launch. In June, Apple’s services boss Eddy Cue said that Pharrell Williams would be posting photos, lyrics and raw mixes of songs – but at the time of writing, he’s posted a single photo two months ago.

Connect isn’t a ghost town: based on the iTunes and Facebook-based lists above, if you followed 30 popular artists on Apple Music, your Connect feed would have between 24 and 33 new posts a week – or 3-5 a day. That might actually be a nicely-manageable complement to the information blur on Twitter and Facebook IF the updates were more than just promotional messages and reposted photos.

It’s still early days, and I’d expect Apple to be working hard to encourage artists not just to use Connect, but to use it well, in the months ahead. As things stand, it is not delivering on its potential. But that potential is there.

Stuart Dredge

Read More: Analysis News
5 responses
  • Julie Calland says:

    Really interesting Stuart, thank you.
    I wonder if artists having to link their personal apple ID in order to operate Connect is too intrusive? Coupled with the fact that apple hadn’t developed access to connect via a desktop version of iTunes for others to post easily on their behalf.

  • Sel says:

    The problem is that using connect is rubbish.
    Its no way near as easy to post content rich material as on Facebook.

    They need to work on the interface and then people will use it more

  • guy barstow says:

    I’m impressed that Bob Marley has made one post.

  • Stuart Dredge says:

    Heh, yes, it can be disconcerting: Nick Drake regularly pops up in my Facebook feed promoting box-sets and the like, too.

  • Arpit says:

    Hi Stuart – Just curious to know how Apple Connect is doing now.

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