Apple Music’s Impact on Our Industry

Apple Music’s June debut sent shockwaves through the paid streaming music industry, no doubt rocking competitors such as Google Play Music, Spotify, Rhapsody, and Rdio. Our industry is about to be rocked as well.

Apple Music isn’t perfect, and may not even be a better alternative than current champ Spotify or my current favorite, Google Play Music. (For a thorough pre-launch thrashing of Apple Music, see Mashable’s take.) Early reports show Apple Music sporting a paltry 256 kb/s bit rate, lower-fidelity than the industry standard 320 kb/s and far short of Tidal’s CD-quality 1411kb/s.

None of that really matters. This is Apple we’re talking about. Spotify can’t advertise, because Spotify doesn’t turn a profit. Apple has all the money in the world, and they wasted no time shilling their new music service with a spectacular longform commercial. On hundreds of millions of Apple mobile devices and computers, Apple Music will have its own icon front and center in the new iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan operating systems. It will be much easier to just say yes to Apple Music than to any of the other services. And the first 3 months will be free. Knowing Apple, that’s just the tip of the iceberg for incentives.

For our industry, the impact could be huge. This is millions of new listeners, many of them (probably most) having never sprung for paid streaming. Apple’s Android app will soon follow, opening up the service to a billion more mobile users.

This means more capacious phones for offline listening; new distributed music systems or functionality (from Control4 to Sonos to URC); renewed interest in headphones, wireless speakers, and audio systems; new smart TV and set-top box features; and enhanced functionality for both OEM and aftermarket car audio.

You don’t have to be an Apple fanboy to love where this is going. A rising tide lifts all boats. Apple’s marketing muscle will expose everyone to the joys of paid music streaming — including potential customers of Spotify, Google Play Music, and the others. They’ll be coming to you for the best ways to enjoy all this new music.