Apple Calls Bulls#@t on MusicWatch's Apple Music Numbers

MusicWatch says 48 percent of the people trying Apple Music have stopped using the streaming music service. Apple says that number is totally wrong, and that only 21 percent have stopped.

Apple Music is losing users, but maybe not as fast as MusicWatch saysApple Music is losing users, but maybe not as fast as MusicWatch says

MusicWatch came up with its numbers through a survey of 5,000 consumers over the age of 13 in the United States. Along with the 48 percent who dropped Apple Music, the survey also showed that 11 percent of iOS users are trying the service, while 77 percent of iOS users are aware of it.

MusicWatch managing partner Russ Crupnick said,

In terms of benchmarking Apple Music, 40 percent of iOS users are buying digital downloads from iTunes, suggesting trial of Apple Music could be higher.

Apple, however, disagrees with MusicWatch's survey and told The Verge that 79 percent of the Apple Music's subscribers are still listening. Apple is clearly in a position to know how many listeners Apple Music has and seems like a reasonable authority on its own business. That said, MusicWatch isn't some fly-by-night number cruncher; it's one of the services the music industry turns to when it needs research data.

So, why the discrepancy in the numbers? It comes down to the data set each company is working with and interpretation. For MusicWatch, that's a subset of the U.S. population. For Apple, it's subscriber data for 110 countries.

That doesn't mean MusicWatch's data is wrong and doesn't hold any value. Instead, it means some context is in order. The numbers show Apple has some real competition in the United States because it isn't drawing subscribers away from Spotify and Pandora. It may also be an indication that the U.S. is a tougher market for new streaming music services.

Mr. Crupnick said, "That's the disadvantage of not being the first mover in a market where very good services currently exist."

MusicWatch's data also showed 64 percent of the survey participants will most likely pay for Apple Music when the three month trial ends. Participants also said they're buying music based on what Apple Music plays.

The take away is that people are liking Apple Music, but it isn't a runaway success. Considering the service is only six weeks old, it's still a little early to proclaim Apple Music the reigning king—or an abject failure.

Apple looks like it's playing long term with Apple Music, which means its success will be determined over years and not weeks. Don't expect Apple Music to disappear over night, and don't look for Spotify or Pandora to drop off the music radar, either.

[Some image elements courtesy Shutterstock]