Apple is working on "cleaning up certain things" about Apple Music, according to Oliver Schusser, vice president, iTunes International, for Apple. In an interview with The Guardian, Mr. Schusser said that Apple has been getting feedback from 110 markets around the world, and was focused on improving the Apple Music experience.
"There’s a lot of work going into making the product better," Mr. Schusser said. "Our focus is on editorial and playlists, and obviously we have teams all around the world working on that, but we’re also adding features and cleaning up certain things."
He also said Apple takes a long term view on Apple Music, saying, "Our focus is more on the product than anything else: we spend most of our energy on that. That’s more our priority than checking every hour the amount of people who have signed up. We have more of a long-term perspective on this."
This is in keeping with Apple's usual modus operandi of building great products and letting the profits take care of themselves. Apple has also made a habit of being willing to cannibalize itself in order to satisfy the needs of customers.
To that end, Mr. Schusser said, "The product is always our priority, and we are getting a lot of feedback. Remember, this was a very big launch in 110 markets instantly, so we get a ton of feedback. We’re obviously trying to make it better every day."
The Elephant in the Room
The interview with The Guardian offers a rare look at how Apple is working to improve a product, and the timing is interesting because of the elephant in the room. That elephant is Ian Rogers, who used to head Apple Music, but left the company this week for luxury brand LVMH.
Many have questioned why Mr. Rogers left, and whether it signaled problems at Apple Music. I personally doubt that's the case, but it's likely no coincidence that Apple had an executive speak to a major newspaper outlet about Apple Music the same week Mr. Rogers left.
My takeaway from that is this: Apple Music is a long term project, Apple isn't worried about subscriber numbers, and the company is listening to customers about interface shortcomings and other problems with Apple Music. More importantly, Apple is committed to fixing those problems.
Those are pretty good messages to be delivering.
Downloads vs. Streaming
Mr. Schusser also offered some commentary on streaming versus downloads, and said that downloads remain an important part of Apple's music business.
"If you follow the industry and look at the numbers, the download business has been really, really healthy. iTunes is a big part of our business, still, and will continue to be, so we focus just as much time and energy on maintaining that, editorially and working on features."
The Guardian noted that Dr. Dre's Compton, which was released in August, has been streamed some 25 million times, even while selling 500,000 downloads. It's an impressive feat when everyone and their brother is proclaiming the end is nigh for downloads.
“[Compton] is a really good example of how streaming and downloads can be successful side-by-side," Mr. Shusser said. "What we’ve proven is that when there’s great content, customers will buy as well as listen."