Apple executives say that their first run at taking on Spotify and winning the music-streaming market wasn’t successful.
Apple (AAPL) tried to do too much too soon with Apple Music, said Jimmy Iovine, a music industry titan and one of the heads of Apple’s music operation, in an interview with BuzzFeed this week.
Iovine added, however, that more features will eventually come to Apple Music that could take the industry by storm.
“We were too ambitious in the beginning—we probably put too much into it,” Iovine said. “But we’re getting there now, one foot in front of the other, and the stuff we’re creating I don’t think anyone is gonna see coming.”
Apple Music was released last year as a streaming alternative to competitors like Spotify. While at its core Apple Music was a streaming service, it also came with a song recommendation engine and a social feature called Connect that Apple had hoped would allow artists and music lovers to network through the service. Apple Music was available on Apple’s mobile operating system iOS, along with its desktop operating system OS X (now macOS).
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Soon after Apple Music reached the company’s operating systems, it was panned by critics who said the recommendations engine wasn’t all that successful at finding relevant tracks and its design was too complicated. It wasn’t uncommon, in fact, for users to have trouble finding their own music library. Those troubles, coupled with little usage in Connect, prompted Apple to respond this year with a major refresh. The new Apple Music app, which debuted with iOS 10 and macOS Sierra, has a far more user-friendly design, better recommendations, and no longer emphasizes social networking.
The revamp came at a critical time for Apple Music, which got off to a strong start but saw its use plateau a bit earlier this year. A jolt in the arm should help Apple Music more quickly catch up to Spotify, which has 40 million subscribers. As of this writing, Apple Music has 17 million subscribers who pay at least $9.99 per month for access to the service and Apple’s vast music catalog.
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Still, a redesign is just a small component in a broader push to build a user base. And at least so far, Apple hasn’t shown that it can short circuit Spotify’s growth to benefit its own. The promise of bigger and better things by Iovine, then, might be the next phase in achieving that goal.
However, Iovine and other Apple executives BuzzFeed interviewed wouldn’t say what’s next for Apple Music. In the typical Apple style, Iovine, who served as head of Interscope Records and co-founded Beats with artist and producer Dr. Dre, which Apple acquired in 2014 for $3 billion, would only say Apple is looking at the best ways to move forward and deliver a better service.
“We’re feeling our way around and seeing what works,” he said.