Last year, the number of people streaming music rose to an incredible 146.6 million. And despite this vast audience, the market is dominated by just two key players – Spotify and Apple Music. We’re delving into the different approaches the two take, exploring how they go head-to-head in the same market to fight for the ultimate title of champion.
Having ruled the technology world with its iPhones, iPods and Macs, many see Apple as dealer in products – leaving them with the mind-set that Apple Music is simply a ploy to boost the necessity of their tech. But that’s not to say it isn’t fighting to change this opinion.
Albeit a new addition to the world of streaming, Apple Music still boasts 27 million subscribers (in contrast to Spotify’s 60 million), which certainly isn’t a bad start. And thanks to their acquisition of the music identifying platform Shazam (for a fee believed to be around £300 million) they’ve taken a new stance of monopoly. This now means when somebody identifies a song through Shazam, they’re no longer referred to Spotify or other platforms such as Google Play, but taken straight to Apple Music. With Shazam reported to have over 100-million users every month, this can be seen as a very strong move for Apple.
In contrast, Spotify maintains an ethos of discovery – where listeners can often stumble across their next favourite band through features such as ‘discover weekly’ and ‘related artists’. One Pitchfork editor compared Spotify to “being at a music festival, discovering something new at every turn”. And more practically, the streaming giant also offers sheer unrivalled access. For less than £10/$10, its listeners can enjoy more than 30 million songs, making it the ultimate in modern convenience. Often, you don’t even have to think about who or what you want to listen to; just tell it your current mood, and it’ll take care of the rest. Hailed as the ‘audible Netflix’ – you can quite literally ‘Spotify and chill’ if you so please.
Playlists are undoubtedly one of Spotify’s key features, and these are now paving the way for companies to intertwine with the platform. Transport giant Uber has become a partner, allowing passengers to enjoy their playlists during the journey. And commercial playlists – such as Nike’s Running Tempo Mix – allow brands to express themselves, with the sport’s giant injecting their energy into millions of ears across the globe. If those ears like what they hear, it allows brands and customers to connect in a way rarely comprehended – through the music industry – creating a synergy between the two. While Spotify advises its brand users to “keep their playlists editorial in nature”, it’s clear that profit is the ultimate aim of this endeavour. But as a relatively subtle form of advertising, businesses who unite with the platform reach consumers on a personal level for powerful effect.
Despite being the king of every other market it enters, it appears Apple Music still has a fair way to go before it can claim victory over Spotify. But that’s not to say it can’t challenge the leader’s crown. Yet by offering businesses the opportunity to connect with their audience through audio, Spotify will always have the edge as a platform for powerful branding.