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Apple Music Has 10 Million Users. We Have No Idea How Apple Music Is Doing.

Even if you want to pay for Apple Music right now, you can't. The first real test is in two months.

Vjeran Pavic for
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

A month after the launch of Apple Music, at least 10 million people have downloaded and tried the new service, reports Hits Daily Double, a music industry trade pub.

Apple isn’t commenting about that number, but it is in line with what I’ve heard from industry sources. Music label executives, who get reports on overall streaming usage on the service, also say they’re encouraged by those metrics.

So that sounds good for Apple. Or at least it doesn’t sound bad.

But right now it’s impossible to say what any of those numbers actually mean, since anyone who has downloaded the service since June 30 is in the first part of a free three-month trial. Even if you wanted to pay Apple Music $10 a month to subscribe to its service, you couldn’t.

The main yardstick for Apple and the music industry is Spotify, the clear leader in subscription music services. Spotify says it has 20 million paid subscribers worldwide, and another 55 million using its free, ad-supported version.

The first real test for Apple Music will come at the end of September, when the earliest trial users are required to pay up if they want to keep listening to the on-demand service (Beats One, Apple’s radio service, will remain free). Apple has also been telling music executives to expect many more trial users this fall when it introduces its new iOS 9 operating software to all of its iPhone and iPad users, many of whom will see Apple Music for the first time.

If you are an Apple Kremlinologist, you will note that the Hits Daily Double number came out after two prominent Apple fans — Jim Dalrymple and Marco Arment — voiced very loud complaints about Apple Music’s software. And if you are an Apple Kremlinologist with a decent memory, you will remember Apple rushing to declare Ping, its social music service, a success immediately after it launched. Which was not true.

But I’d advise against going too far down that rabbit hole. I’ve been hearing positive murmurs from music label people for a couple of weeks. And when Apple really wants to give us something to write about it, it goes ahead and does it on the record. How about this: It’s fair to say that we really don’t know how Apple Music is doing, and won’t for some time.

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