But across the spectrum, including artists, managers, labels and other streaming services, reactions have remained -- perhaps understandably, given Apple's sway in the music business -- cautiously hopeful.
SoundCloud's founder, Alex Ljung, told an audience at the Midem Music Industry Festival in Cannes, France, that Apple's new streaming service might be a rising-tides situation for the streaming industry as a whole.
"The amount of listening happening on streaming is still very small. Apple is going to rapidly increase the market for all of us," Ljung said, according to Venturebeat in a report from the festival. SoundCloud just linked a royalties deal with the indie-label consortium Merlin that put much of its vast archive of independent music inside the formal fence of paid streaming. Apple's service is, in many ways, aimed at a much broader audience, but Ljung hoped that any major push into paid streaming would make it the default way to listen to music.
"They’re very large and they have a lot of cash and they’re very good at marketing and they’ve very good at building hardware,” Ljung said. “They’re going to put a lot of marketing behind this. I’m all for it.”
David Lowery, the frontman of the bands Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven and a writer/researcher who has published widely on digital music, also took an optimistic early tone on his hopes for the service. Or, at least, said that paid streaming isn't the problem musicians should worry about.
"Lately in interviews I've started saying nice things about Spotify because they’re not the biggest problem for artists. The biggest problem is YouTube, and all the user-generated, unwrangled content," he told Vulture. Apple, which has a reported 800 million credit cards on file, could make a shift to its paid service fairly seamless, and might be the only way to head off the whack-a-mole of unofficial uploads. "The rate they pay you is much lower than Spotify and there are a lot of streams that don't get caught, which means musicians don't get paid. So, from my perspective, their having some competition is a good thing."
On a smaller and independent level, where artists have perhaps suffered the most from illicit downloads and streaming, some label owners and managers were more plainly enthused.
"As a manager of some small, truly independent musicians, Apple has been a great supporter of our acts and have reached out to us many times," wrote Alexis Rivera, the L.A.-based manager of electronic acts Todd Edwards, Glass Candy and Poolside and a behind-the-scenes fixture of A Club Called Rhonda. "I grew up poor, an only child whose only friend sometimes was music, but frustrated not being able to afford & thus hear all kinds of music. ... The fact that streaming services have so much music available & for a price that's relatively affordable is incredible, for me as a fan & manager."
"I really hope Apple Music takes off, especially the 'Connect' part," wrote Low End Theory and Alpha Pup Records founder Daddy Kev. His club nights and label did a lot of the early legwork in popularizing the current wave of electronic and bass music in America, a scene fostered largely on social media, streaming and far outside the traditional album-sales cycle. A central platform connected to a paid service might be a boon: "We really haven't had a great social network for music since MySpace," he wrote.
However, he also warned: "If you thought download revenues were bad already..."
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