Don’t get too excited: there’s a big section on Apple Music in its parent company’s report on the progress of its services division in 2021, but it doesn’t include any update on the 60 million subscribers figure Apple announced back in June 2019. Publicly, the tech giant continues to play its cards close to its chest on that particular metric.
Still, the report is a useful summary of Apple’s services business following a year in which it grew to 745 million paid subscriptions across them all: from music, video, news and fitness to cloud storage and the Apple One bundle that brings them all together.
The emphasis in the music section is on new features: lossless and spatial audio; lyrics sharing; city charts; motion cover art and integration with Apple’s TV, news, FaceTime and photo apps for example. There are a couple of carefully-general figures too: “tens of millions” of Apple Music Radio listeners and “millions” of people playing music through the Siri voice assistant.
Looking ahead, Apple is promising “even more global premieres, exclusives, in-depth interviews, livestreams, DJ mixes, and the world’s best streaming experience for classical music” – the latter following its acquisition of classical DSP Primephonic – as well as “even better browsing and search capabilities”.
None of this is a new or surprising announcement, but it highlights a positive aspect of the music streaming market in 2022. Nobody wants stasis in this world: a raft of $9.99-a-month streaming services that look the same and have pretty much the same features in terms of curation, discovery and listening.
Apple, like Spotify, Amazon and YouTube at the top end of the market – not that we’re forgetting the potential for innovation lower down, which is also important – has the resources to invest not just in matching its rivals, but pushing streaming forward.
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