Our monthly look back at news from the music industry – distribution, streaming, publishing and other topics that matter to the our community of independent music makers.

 

Apple Music Eyes Eventual Leading Spot With 36 Million Subscribers


As music streaming becomes more popular among fans each month, independent artists are seeing the benefits – and not just monetarily, but also in terms of how they are able to promote and market their releases. While countries all over the world have their favorites, there’s no denying the branding power that Spotify and Apple Music bring to the table here. This month, Apple Music announced it has more than 36 million subscribers, up from 30 million in September of last year.

While Spotify remains at number one globally with over 70 million paying subscribers as of this year, Apple Music (sitting at number two overall) appears to be specifically growing at a faster rate in the U.S. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reports that Apple’s subscription growth rate should put it ahead of Spotify in this country by the summer. The report points to Apple’s ability to put the service right in its customers’ hands as streaming becomes more and more widely adopted, not to mention the release of their new HomePod speaker system.

As a digital distributor, TuneCore’s aim to is provide a pathway for artists of all genres to sell their music online and be discovered on popular streaming platforms and digital stores all over the world. We love all of our digital store partners equally, so reporting on their competitive nature is simply a reminder of the growing power of streaming.

In fact, as Music Ally points out: “The fact that Apple’s ability to bundle Apple Music trials with its popular devices is paying off is good news for our industry. The fact that it’s paying off without seemingly cannibalising the growth of two different models from its main rivals is even better news.”

 

“Alexa, Build Me a Playlist”


Speaking of music streaming, there’s been little to slow down the popularity of both official and unofficial playlists on some of the major platforms. Fans dig the ability to listen to their favorite genres handsfree – simultaneously enjoying their favorite hits, keeping up with new releases, and discovering new talent.

Also increasingly popular are smart devices like Amazon Alexa, a voice controlled speaker that allows users to get information, access their Amazon Prime, play music, and more. Now, the online retailer and music service provider has introduced a feature to their Alexa devices: the ability to create playlists on Amazon Music.

Saying simple commands like, “Alexa, create a playlist” or “Alexa, add this to my playlist” (the latter while a song is playing) will instruct the device to do just that.

While they haven’t made as much of a big deal about this new feature as, say, their support for SMS messaging or its new Android capabilities, we here at TuneCore think it’s pretty cool! It obviously remains to be seen how popular this option for playlist building will be, it denotes the popularity of playlisting and how this concept can bring more new ears to independent artists.

 

Spotify Eyes Entrance Into the Hardware Game


As mentioned above, we’re seeing that just because there’s a steady rise in the realm of digital music streaming, physical devices are evolving to make listening even easier. This past month, the industry was abuzz with rumors when Spotify posted a job description for the brand new role of “Operations Manager – Hardware Product” – among a few others. Full disclosure: TuneCore has no inside knowledge of where these roles came from!

However, industry writers and pundits have been quick to notice these roles seem to suggest that Spotify has big plans for a hardware rollout in the future. The Guardian has pointed out in the past that the streaming provider has been working on hardware “akin to Pebble Watch, Amazon Echo, and Snap Spectacles”.  It’s not hard to imagine that many have pointed toward the possibility of a smart speaker, but once more, it’ll be a little while until we know.

Regardless of what the future holds, we’re excited for any new introductions that will encourage music sharing and discovery.

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