During Apple’s recent big product event, one of the items that was somewhat overlooked in all the excitement over its new laptops is Apple Music’s new streaming tier, called Apple Music Voice. Any new streaming service or tier is exciting for artists, labels and songwriters, since it’s another opportunity for revenue, but Music Voice has a few pros and cons that artists should be aware of.
What Is Apple Music Voice?
The tier is called Voice because it’s only accessible via Siri. That means that any of the 90 million tracks in Apple Music’s catalog are accessed using only Siri voice commands, which also extends to full playback controls including unlimited song-skipping. Users will be able to use the Apple Music app to also control playback of a song, but you won’t be able to find a song and play it from the app.
The price is only $4.99 per month, but the downside is that it excludes support for spatial audio with Dolby Atmos, lossless audio, time-synced lyrics, music videos and playlist creation. The good news is that if you’re subscribed to Apple Music Voice, you can have your music played on all of your Siri-enabled Apple devices or CarPlay.
Apple said it’s going to roll out the new tier to 17 countries later this fall, including Australia, Austria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, Taiwan, the U.K. and the U.S.
- More potential revenue. As stated above, another less expensive tier means that the platform can garner even more subscribers, which potentially means more revenue to artists, labels and songwriters.
- A more accurate measurement of song popularity. There are no playlists available in the Voice tier, which means that a user has to actively request a song. That means that an artist won’t be getting any incidental plays because a song happened to be sandwiched in a playlist. It’s also less likely to be played as background music. If people hear your song on this tier, it’s because they really want to.
- The revenue will be tiny. Yes, you might make more money as a result of plays from this tier, but because people are only paying half of what a normal subscription costs, it will probably be a lot less than from the other tiers as well (none of this data is available yet).
- Less opportunity for music discovery. Artists will do anything to get on playlists because they know that their songs will be exposed to a lot of new people. Since a Voice subscriber doesn’t have access to any playlists, the opportunity for music discovery is much lower. That said, subscribers will get suggestions based on their music preferences, so music discovery is not completely off the table.
Apple Music Voice appears to be Apple’s answer to Amazon Music Unlimited $3.99 plan. The big difference is that the Amazon plan lets you play music on only one Amazon device (and those choices are limited), while the new Apple Music tier will allow you to play music across all your Apple devices.
Any plan that attracts new subscribers is good for the industry. I’m not sure how much of an effect it will actually have on the streaming world, since some people just hate Siri with a passion, but more is always better when it comes to revenue opportunities.