Apple Music is growing, and adding millions of new subscribers each year, but that’s not enough, according to its leader Jimmy Iovine.
Speaking to Billboard in an interview published on Thursday, Iovine said that Apple Music, the company’s streaming-music service, now has more than 30 million subscribers, up from 27 million in June. While that growth, which translates to about 1 million new subscribers each month, is strong, Iovine told the music paper that bringing on new customers and expanding the service’s music catalog is “not the trick” to making streaming services truly sustainable.
“There has to be much more engagement between the artists and the audience,” Iovine told Billboard. While he didn’t get into any more specifics, he said that Apple has “big plans.” He acknowledged, however, that it also has “a long way to go.”
Apple (AAPL) is battling with Spotify for control over the lucrative streaming-music market. However, unlike most other markets Apple is in, where the company quickly takes control, it’s been unable to unseat Spotify. And as of July 2017, Spotify had more than 60 million subscribers, up from 50 million March.
Spotify, in other words, was adding about 2.5 million subscribers per month between March and July. Apple added 1 million subscribers between June and now.
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Iovine didn’t delve deeply into Spotify in his evaluation of streaming services and Apple Music itself, but Iovine did say that he and his team “fight every day to come up with creative things” to improve Apple Music. And he seems to firmly believe the artist connection is critical to his service’s success.
However, artists and the record labels that back them have largely proven agnostic, allowing their music to be streamed over both Apple Music and Spotify. And in some cases, streaming competitor Tidal, which is owned by artist and music titan Jay-Z, streams albums exclusively before they’re made available elsewhere.
Ultimately, Iovine has high hopes for the music industry in general and says that he wants to help artists. But he doesn’t seem himself leaving Apple to do it at another record label.
“Let them make the music exciting and interesting,” Iovine said of artists and record labels. “We will try to do everything that we can to create content around it, and make the delivery of it as exciting as possible.”