What’s On the Horizon for Streamed and Owned Media?
This week Apple announced its new streaming service, Apple Music, in an attempt to get users to push play again on a platform of their own and push back against millennial darling, Spotify. Apple Music has labeled itself as a revolutionary music streaming service and is positioned to appeal to record labels in order to persuade them to sever ties with Spotify and cut the app’s free, ad-supported streaming option off at the knees, forcing users to come groveling back to their Apple overlords.
Apple Music isn’t exactly singing a different tune when it comes to pricing and content offered on the platform. The streaming service costs $9.99/month per user for access to 30 million songs – same as Spotify. Floundering competitor Tidal falls short with only 25 million tracks available.
Apple plans to offer a family plan for its service that allows access to up to six users at a time for just $14.99 per month, but Spotify, never to be outdone, already has plans in the works to match that.
So far the only even remotely innovative takeaway to come out of Apple’s announcement is their Music app’s “Connect” feature which is intended to serve as a direct connection between artists and fans, allowing exclusive visual, video and audio content to be posted to the platform.
The issue of exclusivity could prove to be a point of contention for users, particularly millennials with diverse tastes and tight budgets, as artists like Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, Kanye West and Daft Punk choose sides and sidle their streaming service of choice. Having to subscribe to multiple streaming services in order to access the tunes we want to listen to isn’t exactly music to us music lover’s ears.
Spotify is by no means a perfect service but it is perfectly poised in the market as its streaming buttons are already integrated into software for users’ convenience and its social sharing features are incomparable and practically untouchable. It’s unlikely Apple Music will even make a dent in Spotify’s current 15 million paying subscribers if Apple doesn’t reinvent the wheel to convince and convert users.
Apple could stand to take a note from sleeper hit mattress innovaters, Casper, who took their content marketing by the reigns this week and launched an owned media strategy headed by a new online mag cleverly titled Van Winkle’s.
“Great brands don’t just ride shifts in culture, they contribute to them,” remarks Luke Sherwin, co-founder and chief creative officer at Casper. “Smarter brands in general realize that their products are just enablers to a lifestyle—changing the lifestyle itself can be more profitable than any change to your product.”
Casper hopes not just to create content but to contribute to a culture that could potentially change people’s sleep cycles and lifestyles
“While sleep is of increasing interest to everyone, there is no true authority on the topic,” Sherwin says. “We want to own the conversation on sleep and help create sleep and wakefulness as a new editorial category, much like food, shelter, and fitness are now.”
Van Winkle’s is a perfect example of the larger trend we’ve noted this year of brands adopting an owned media strategy, becoming media companies and moving content creation in-house to become powerful, autonomous content hubs. This bold move puts Casper in bed with the likes of Airbnb, Uber, Starbucks and Snapchat who have all built their own media divisions with the help of seasoned journalists and under the advisement of media experts who are no stranger to capturing the eyes and hearts of an audience to earn their attention.
For Apple Music to earn the ears of users they can’t take updates from Spotify lying down and should spring into action developing an owned media strategy of their own.