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Apple disputes report that users are bailing on Apple Music

Apple disputes report that users are bailing on Apple Music
Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet software and services, unveils the new Apple Music streaming service in June. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Is Apple's new music app having trouble holding on to users?

The Cupertino, Calif., tech giant is fighting back against a report that nearly half of those who have tried Apple Music for free have since quit the service.

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A survey of 5,000 people by the research firm Music Watch said earlier this week that 48% of those who had tried the service said they were not currently using it. It also said that 11% of Apple iOS users reported they were currently using Apple Music, while more than three-quarters were aware of it.

"In terms of benchmarking Apple Music, 40% of iOS users are buying digital downloads from iTunes, suggesting trial of Apple Music could be higher," said MusicWatch managing partner Russ Crupnick in a statement. "That's the disadvantage of not being the first mover in a market where very good services currently exist."

That was widely interpreted in the tech press as a sign that Apple Music has had a difficult time gaining traction since it launched June 30 with much fanfare. Those who sign up for the service can use it for free for 90 days before being charged the $9.99 a month subscription fee.

But Apple has come out swinging, declaring that only 21% of trial users have opted out.

Apple has not shied away from fighting negative press in the wake of the service's launch, which analysts said could be a game-changer for the growing industry of streaming music.

The company reversed course on a royalty payments policy just hours after superstar Taylor Swift complained in a blog post and threatened to withhold her album "1989" from Apple Music.

Bad buzz can be a big problem for a new service trying to gain traction in a crowded marketplace. Just ask Jay Z's new entrant, Tidal, which he bought for $56 million.

Contacted Wednesday, MusicWatch's Crupnick said he had been in touch with Apple, and that they have agreed to look at each other's numbers. He also pushed back against the idea that his survey suggested problems for Apple Music.

"We have to be sure we're measuring the same thing," Crupnick said in an email. "I do think it's unfortunate that some color has been added to the number suggesting Apple Music is struggling, or worse yet, failing. That wasn't my conclusion at all."

Apple Music has said it has 11 million trial users. Those who signed up in the beginning are now in the second month or the three-month free period. Spotify, which launched in 2008, has 20 million paying subscribers, plus 55 million who listen for free with ads.

Follow Ryan Faughnder on Twitter for more entertainment business coverage: @rfaughnder

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