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Apple Music hits 20 million subscribers by focusing on Hip-Hop – The Loop

I’ve said this since the launch of Apple Music, but it seems very clear now. “Music” is no longer in Apple’s DNA — hip-hop is what’s important to Apple. Again, it’s a numbers game. More people are listening to that genre than ever before, so Apple can leave the Rock/Blues/Metal acts to another service and still add subscribers using hip-hop exclusives. It’s actually refreshing to see Apple finally admit it.

People like me with an existing music library that rely on the often non-working iTunes Match are no longer Apple’s market. I even opened up a second Apple Music account to see if iTunes Match would work — it didn’t.

In a lot of ways it makes perfect sense that Apple is building a music service that doesn’t require a music library — there’s less hassle and they don’t have to rely on services like iTunes Match to please those customers. Apple is catering to those customers very well. However, it’s a shame they don’t care about the rest of us any more.

Jim Dalrymple writing on The Loop says what I’ve been thinking for a while. His article is a reaction to something that Phil Schiller said, when discussing Apple Music hitting the milestone of 20 million subscribers:

We’ve always thought that hip-hop was underrepresented both in iTunes and in the streaming chart. And more people listen to hip-hop now than ever before so we’ve done a lot of work in that area.

I doubt it was underrepresented anywhere. If people were listening to it, it wasn’t that they were doing so just by pirating music.

But, as Jim Dalrymple says, Apple’s focus on just one genre (well, make it two, with the sort of mass-produced pop that they also highlight) may be good for the numbers now, but it’s alienating a lot of other listeners. Apple honestly doesn’t know how many listeners of other genres may be interested in their service, since they’re turned off by its insistence on highlighting just hip-hop and pop music.

Also, these users are fickle. Jim Dalrymple says:

What Apple will recognize is that the people they attract with exclusives will go to the next music service that has an exclusive without blinking an eye or without any loyalty to Apple. By that time, the base of users that they’ve relied on for years will also be gone.

I’m not sure people will leave that quickly, because it’s still a monthly subscription, bit it is easy to cancel and resubscribe. If Apple wants to keep users, they need to focus not just on the people who stream, but the people who build libraries using Apple Music. Those are the ones who are less likely to switch, because they have a lot invested in the service.

Source: Apple Music hits 20 million subscribers by focusing on Hip-Hop

Learn the Tricks for Getting the Most out of the Apple Watch, with Apple Watch: A Take Control Crash Course

Tc apple watchYou’ll like your Apple Watch as much as author Jeff Carlson does after you’ve read this book and used its advice to integrate the Apple Watch into your life, taking advantage of its many features for helping you focus on what you care about the most. That could mean not missing notifications to help you keep up with co-workers, being free to stash your iPhone so you can enjoy the sunset without worrying that your sitter is trying to reach you, making sure you move enough to fill your activity rings for the day, or any other of a million things that make the watch right for you.

Jeff walks you through getting to know the Apple Watch, complete with a chapter on picking one out if you haven’t already, along with topics that teach you how to navigate among the watch’s screens with the physical controls, taps on the screen, and the Siri voice assistant.

You’ll also find advice on customizing watch faces, getting the notifications you want, handling text and voice communications, and using Apple’s core apps. A final chapter discusses taking care of your Apple Watch, including recharging, restarting, resetting, and restoring.

Get Apple Watch: A Take Control Crash Course.

Tim Cook Spins Poor Apple Watch Sales Figures

There’s a story going around about the research firm IDC’s analysis of the wearables market. It showed that the Apple Watch’s sales had plummeted in Q3 2016, compared to the previous year.

Naturally, Tim Cook had to make a statement about this. He told Reuters:

Our data shows that Apple Watch is doing great and looks to be one of the most popular holiday gifts this year. Sales growth is off the charts. In fact, during the first week of holiday shopping, our sell-through of Apple Watch was greater than any week in the product’s history. And as we expected, we’re on track for the best quarter ever for Apple Watch.

This is Mr. Cook’s job, sort of. (It makes me wonder why a company the size of Apple doesn’t have a visible official spokesperson; it shouldn’t be up to the CEO of the company to handle the press.) Spinning sales is important.

But, while he says something like the above, he won’t give any numbers. As Reuters said:

Cook did not respond to a request for specific sales figures for the gadget.

It’s a bit ludicrous to even accept his statement about sales if he won’t give any numbers. He’s just playing the press. And even if the “sell-through of Apple Watch was greater than any week in the product’s history,” what does that mean? If there’s nothing to compare it to, it could be that they sold 200 watches instead of 195 that week. (I exaggerate; I’m sure they sold more than that. But you get the point.)

It’s undeniable that the Apple Watch is not winning in unit sales, though it’s probably doing better than other brands in overall revenue. Fitbit, who’s selling the most units, has devices that are much less expensive. But Apple is facing a tough market. As long as Fitbit keeps improving their devices, and the Apple Watch requires an iPhone, they’ll not be able to break out into the more general market. Apple did very well making the iPod compatible with Windows; perhaps they can make the Apple Watch compatible with Android. It would require modifications – no Siri, for example, and different apps – but it’s not impossible.

In any case, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain if he won’t announce sales figures. He’s just spinning.

Classical Record Label Spins CD Sales, Sort of Exaggerates…

I received a press release from Universal Music, one of the big record labels that owns many of what were originally independent classical labels, such as DG, Phillips, and Decca. They were touting the sales of their new Mozart 225 box set. The press release’s title was, in all caps:


Wow, that’s pretty impressive! Get this:

225 years after his death, Mozart is still top of the pops, as a new box set dedicated to his works becomes the biggest CD release of the year. ‘Mozart 225: The New Complete Edition’ has sold a staggering 1.25 million CDs globally in just 5 weeks since it was released – more than releases from Drake, Rihanna and David Bowie.

More than Drake, Rihanna, and David Bowie. Except it’s, well, fake news.

My first thought was surprise. 1.25 million copies of this set, at around $400, would be a half a billion dollars. Not bad for the beleaguered recording industry. Also, the label claimed that this set was limited to 15,000 copies; mine even has a certificate showing its number, so if they had sold that many, they’d be guilty of fraud.

And there’s the rub. The sold 1.25 million compact discs, not box sets. If you divide that number by 200 (the number of discs in the set), you get 6,250. Out of 15,000. Or just under 42% of the total pressing.

By any account, 1.25 million CDs is a lot. But it’s a fraction of what Brilliant Classics sold of their Complete Mozart set, released more than ten years ago. As of September 2006, the New York Times reported that 300,000 copies of that low-priced set had been sold. I’m going to spitball and say that, by now, they’ve hit half a million copies. At 170 discs, that comes to 85,000,000 compact discs sold. (Of course, they may have sold even more than half a million by now.)

So, Universal Music has only sold around 6,250 of theirs. I would expect that a lot of libraries and conservatoires around the world bought the set, and not many individuals. It’s expensive, and many of the classical record collectors I’ve conversed with about this set said they wouldn’t buy it because they had many of the recordings it contains and weren’t interested in the rest.

I think Universal is trying to spin this to make it sound like a big deal, because they haven’t sold anywhere near as many as they hoped. With Christmas approaching, they need to sell a few thousand more, and even if they do, they’re likely to end the year with more than 5,000 copies on hand. This is expensive inventory, and actually represents a bit of a failure on their part.

They probably expected brisker sales, since this is a limited edition. Most of the individual buyers of this set who are classical music collectors have made their purchases by now, because of that limitation. More will probably spring for it by Christmas. But will Universal sell out of their 15,000 copies? It doesn’t look good.

In any case, I’m really enjoying the set. You might like it too. (, Amazon UK)

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Writings about Macs, music, and more by Kirk McElhearn