Good and bad: Apple Music nabs 11 million trial subscriptons

Eleven million Apple Music trial accounts sounds good but much will depend on how many actually convert to paid. And the figure is a small fraction of the current iOS user base.

For a company whose CEO once said "People have told us over and over and over again, they don't want to rent their music," Apple is moving forward quite well with its Apple Music subscription service. On Thursday, Apple told USA Today it has 11 million trial accounts signed up.

That figure is roughly half of the number of paying Spotify subscribers, a service that has been around since 2008.

Of course, with the three-month trial period for Apple Music, Apple actually has zero paying customers at the moment. We'll have to see how many trial subscribers actually ante up the $9.99 a month before declaring Apple Music a true competitor to Spotify.

Out of the 11 million trial accounts, Apple says 2 million are family plans.

These cost $14.99 a month and allow for up to six people on a single plan; what I think is the real disruptive feature of Apple Music to date. Most competing services discount addition users after the first by 50 percent, which after two people costs more than Apple Music. The plan has already prompted some, such as Spotify, to say they'll feature more competitive family plan pricing in the future.

Aside from watching how many Apple Music trial members convert to paid accounts in the coming months, we'll also have to see how many Android device owners test the music service. Apple said it will support Android with an Apple Music app later this year. With Android more widely used around the world, the move boosts Apple Music's potential revenues.

On the one hand, 11 million trial subscribers to Apple Music sounds like a big number. Apple, unsurprisingly, says it's thrilled with the response.

But considering that the Apple Music app is now pre-installed with iOS 8.4 -- which supports most iPads and all iPhones from the 4s up -- there's likely a few hundred million potential Apple Music subscribers today. Remember too that Apple Music is available in more than 100 countries.

And yet, only 11 million of those with iDevices have signed up. From the perspective of the total iOS user base, that's a small fraction.

I wouldn't be surprised at all to see a bigger marketing push to help spread the word about Apple Music in the next few months because while 11 million isn't a number to be ignored, it's not even close to a meaningful percentage of people that own iPhones, iPads and iPod touch devices.


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