Apple Music v Spotify: the jukebox duke-out


These days we’re used to the concept of brand demise, and increasingly brands that enjoy affection and loyalty are suddenly gone with little lament. Who would have thought 20 years ago that Ski Yoghurt, HMV and Woolworths would simply not exist anymore?

Those of us that remember buying Blondie’s Heart of Glass from Our Price Records perhaps hear the death knell of these brands more clearly than new generations of digital natives.

Arguably it’s digital brands that are more susceptible to catch a chill and die suddenly. One could argue that this simply comes with the territory. Did I mourn the demise of Napster? Not really, iTunes came along with its reassuringly legal 0.79p price-point and all was well with the world (and my iPod).

The fleeting nature of a digital brand’s lifecycle usually means it’s hard to gain loyalty in what is often a brief window of relevance, but, if it’s genuinely life-enhancing, user devotion can be accelerated. Enter Spotify: a service that has democratised (legal) access to music like never before. Want to find ’Theme One’, the BBC Radio 1 launch theme tune from 1967? It’s there – penned by George Martin and performed by Van Der Graaf Generator. Looking to track down the wonderfully camp ‘Do You Come Here Often’ by The Tornados (well, Joe Meek really), a 60s B-side so mythical in its rarity that its very existence was challenged? Well here it is on Spotify too, alongside brand new releases by Slaves and Turbo Wolf.

So will it be a case of This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us? What’s going to happen when cuddly global behemoth and once outsider-brand, Apple, takes on Spotify? I’ve been an Apple advocate since clicking my first beige wedge-shaped mouse in 1989 and promises of personalized, curated playlists supported by swarming multi-coloured artist screen bubbles is all very seductive and soooo Apple.

How do the numbers stack up? Spotify is already talking about assuming the role of ‘comfortable number 2’, and with a current debt of £117m things appear bleak. But with big investment promised, 20 million paying subscribers and a valuation of £5.4bn, maybe it’s not game over just yet.

Personally my love of all things Apple took a dent when they surreptitiously installed a U2 track on my phone. Like when a good friend buys you a pint of Budweiser, I felt they didn’t know me at all. Track record and intuition tells me that Apple, once again, have timed their second-to-market strategy perfectly. It worked with the iPod, and again with the iPad.

So, time to sit back, Let the Music Play and wait to see how this plays out, but my loyalty and love of all things Apple won’t stretch to an automatic brand switch this time.

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