The $14.99 family plan is better. It’s like getting a second account for half price, or five more accounts for half price (up to six people total). That’s math I can handle and with Apple Music I can dump the redundancy of Pandora and Spotify. Good, right? Except for a few nagging numerical issues that won’t go away.
Penny For Your Thoughts
There are two major numerical issues to consider. The first is the obvious. Should I rent with Apple Music or should I buy music on iTunes. Apple probably wants us to do both; rent and buy.
A quick look at the budgeting app I put on my iPhone a few years ago indicates that last year, 2014, I spent just over $200 on iTunes music. Not apps. Just music. Both my husband and I can listen to the same iTunes library, so if I never bought another song, always spent at least $200 on music each year, the Apple Music’s subscription plan is good.
Who has room on their Macs or iPhones for 30-million songs?
The second numerical issue is less obvious. It’s been widely reported that Apple plans to pay artists for each song streamed during Apple Music’s free three month trial period. How much? .2-cents per song. Or, put another way, 1-cent for five songs. Or, 10-cents for fifty songs. Or, $1 for 500 songs. That’s music streamed, ostensibly music listened to by the subscriber during the trial period.
Listening to Apple Music an hour a day, five days a week, could cost Apple more than a pretty penny. If a song averages three minutes, that’s 20 songs per hour, or 4-cents. Seven days a week of one hour a day makes it 28-cents total; per week, or about $1.25 per month, or $3.50 for the three month trial.
Apple can afford that. If 50-million people subscribe to Apple Music for the three month trial and listen an hour a day (roughly 20 songs or 600 songs a month, or 30-billion total monthly), the company is out less than $60-million, but would hope to get some of that back by subscribers sticking around longer than three months and sticking to the subscription plan.
As I see it, the key to success here is based upon listens vs. purchases. When I buy music, whether iTunes Music Store or Target, it’s mine to listen to as many times as I want. A $20 album of 12 songs, at .2-cents per listen (the math above; but check me to see if I did it right) which means each song on the album would get listened to about 800 times to even the math– 800 listens each, times 12 songs on an album, equals 9,600 listens, times .2-cents per listen; or just under $20. My cost per listen probably is high because I’m sure I don’t listen to every track on my CDs or iTunes 800 times.
What do recording artists get from this? Taylor Swift made an impassioned plea to Apple to pay artists during the Apple Music free three month trial. Apple changed course and did the right thing. But do artists still make any money at .2-cents per streaming song? What does the recording company get out of that payment? How much money does a recording artist receive from the sale of a $20 album?
Someone knows those numbers, and there are many variables to consider, but it might be worthwhile for subscribers and listeners to know how much an artist receives for each listen vs. a purchase, and some public math to determine where artists make sufficiently substantial money to make it worth their while. It just seems to me that a streaming music subscription service doesn’t make anybody much money on a per stream basis.
What I suspect will happen is this. Apple will make money. Recording companies will make money. You and I will spend money (subscribe or buy). But recording artists will be treated as they always have.
P.S. If my math is off then I’ll update accordingly.