This weekend, Apple kicked off its heavily promoted Apple Music festival (RIP iTunes Music Festival) at the iconic Roundhouse theatre in Camden, London. If you’re an Apple user, you’ve been served pre-roll promos in your AppleTV binges and above every App Store download for the past month or so.
To say that the lineup is impressive is an understatement. Apple secured a slate of mega-stars across diverse music genres ranging from Ellie Goulding, The Weekend, One Direction, Pharrell, Mumford & Sons, Florence & The Machine, and more. Not to mention the fresh group of opening acts— insert “Apple Connect” vs. Spotify “Found Them First” joke here. But seriously, ping me if you know anyone that uses either “artist engagement” solution? I digress.
This was Apple’s 8th festival since launching in 2007, and is under pressure to deliver results after the recent—dare I call them—music flops. First, the U2 debacle when Apple clogged our iCloud/AppleDrive/@me? accounts with Bono’s latest studio time this past March and then released a haphazard Apple Music app back in June that had Jobs screaming from six feet under. Nevertheless, Apple is making a huge statement that it’s here for good when it comes to music and will dedicate the time, R&D, and prime-time marketing dollars (last night’s Emmy’s) to give its product a chance to compete. The contrary outcome, an all-out cession to Spotify,YouTube & co.
As Wall Street has shown us over the course of September, diversity is key to a healthy portfolio. If Apple loses the platform battle to other online streaming services, how does it hold on to one of the industries that help put it on the map? Do you remember the days of passing around physical CDs in 6th grade hallways to then go home and meticulously organize your library of 10,000 songs? Or, the days of having to purchase individual LOST episodes on iTunes at $2.99 because your JV basketball practice ran beyond 9pm? The point is that music is an integral staple of the Apple brand, and not a component it will let go of, even if the ship has already sailed. 11 million free trial users on Apple Music is a solid launch stat for a platform force-fed to your home screen, but estimates are showing conversion at far below original expectations…As digital libraries and (fraction-of-a) penny streams continue to alter the music business as we know it, Apple can hedge its music bets in the live events world by putting on (for-the-time-being) free spectacular live performances. Live events are the thriving revenue stream in the business today. 2014 was a $20B year for touring, with marquee legends including The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Billy Joel, returning to the stage and new boy band sensations, One Direction, & Five Seconds of Summer selling out crowds of tweens + Mom. 2015 is shaping up to be another record-breaking year with U2, Neil Diamond AC/DC Ariana Grande, Sam Hunt and co preselling arenas worldwide...Is there a world where Apple taps into the live-events marketshare?
A recent Tweet of mine reads:
“Apple Music is to live touring platform as iPhone pricing plan is to wireless telecom business”
Apple is a BIG PICTURE company and is the reason its market cap is north of the GDP’s of modern day New Zealand, Vietnam, Morocco, & Ecuador. Jobs was a platform believer, not a product launcher. With September’s iPhone 6s announcement came the favorable iPhone pricing plan + apple care deal. Get ready for the telecom wars as Apple moves closer to owning the headset in your ear as well as the cell tower that powers them up in the skies. If Apple can convert users to spend money on iHeartRadio–esque mega tours, the same way it can convince users to buy Candy Crush currency, there is a world in which Apple comes out on top of music, Apple Connect or not.
I’ll be streaming-in all week. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/1Fbeaq8