back to article Millions of people forget to cancel Apple Music subscription

Apple has put out the first stats around its music subscription service and the end result is ... good start. There are 15m users of the service, said CEO Tim Cook, speaking at the WSJDLive conference this week, and 6.5m of them are paying $9.99 a month. In its most simple terms, that puts Apple straight into second position …

  1. Christopher Edwards

    How attitudes change

    Remember when MS gave IE away for free in the OS and crushed Netscape. People still hate MS for this. Including some l'apple fanbois.

    1. asdf

      Re: How attitudes change

      Anybody that has ever run Netscape 4.7+ on a UNIX box knows what crushed Netscape (only software I have ever seen crash an IRIX box). A lot of the hate for Microsoft was more that they chose to ignore web standards and foisted IE6 on the world which set the internet back for years.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How attitudes change

      What's the problem? Apple is only giving three months for free, after that you have to pay. That's not the same situation as IE killing Netscape at all, where not only did the free IE kill Netscape's revenue (it used to be free for home use, but businesses had to pay) but Microsoft went out of their way to kill it in other ways - not just integrating it into the OS, but making it the default browser and making it impossible to change that, and corrupting the web with non-standard IE extensions so pages didn't look right on anything but IE. Oh yeah, Microsoft had over 95% of the desktop market, versus Apple having less than 20% of the smartphone market.

      Wake me up when Apple makes Apple Music free forever and kills Spotify and Pandora on iOS (which wouldn't hurt them that bad, considering Android has like 80% of the market) and when they convince artists to make music that only sounds good when played on an iPhone. Only then will the situations be the same.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How attitudes change

        I'd take issue with "corrupting the web with non-standard IE extensions"

        Yes there were extentions available which were non standard... There were non standard things available for Netscape too.. The reason IE became more widley adopted was its extentions were easier to use.

        Let's not forget that without non standard IE extentions we wouldn't have xmlhttp which is quite a big deal...

      2. Graham Marsden

        @DougS - Re: How attitudes change

        > What's the problem? Apple is only giving three months for free, after that you have to pay.

        The problem is what's called Inertia Selling

        "Apple set it up so that users of the trial period were automatically subscribed to the service when it expired. And thanks to the fact that the app is running on Apple's system – which in the vast majority of cases already contains people's credit card details – it was able to seamlessly sign people up without forcing them to enter their credit card details."

        Signing people up to a service "for free" and then taking money off them if they don't unsubscribe is verging on the illegal and I hope it comes back to bite them on the arse if someone is willing to stand up to them (unfortunately, they'll need deep pockets...)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @DougS - How attitudes change

          Assuming it clearly says that you will be charged after the trial period is over it is certainly standard industry practice. At least in the US, Europe seems to protect consumers a bit better and make companies jump through a few more hoops.

          While that may somewhat anti-consumer behavior, it has nothing to do with the Microsoft / IE situation, which was what I took issue with in my reply.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          Re: @DougS - How attitudes change

          "Signing people up to a service "for free" and then taking money off them if they don't unsubscribe is verging on the illegal "

          That subscription model has been around for *YEARS* and no one has managed to declare it illegal yet. Book clubs, record clubs, magazine subscriptions etc have done it at least since I was a lad. Even AOL and Compuserve did it.

          1. Graham Marsden

            Re: @DougS - How attitudes change

            The difference between the situations you describe and what Apple has done is that the others require you to give your card information up front, so there is at least a *clue* that you're going to be charged once the trial period ends.

            Apple, however, already *have* your payment information...

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Vira

    Satisfied Customer

    As a pure Apple household (the last Windows laptop was replaced over a year ago - oh how I laugh at this Windows 10 lark) I find Apple Music to be a real money saver with a Family account. Whereas before we would each buy our own music every month - an album here, a few single tracks there - it would soon add up to far more than the Apple Music subscription cost.

    Now we can get all the music we would ever need and more besides. We all have the freedom to explore new music, revisit our favourite bands and get the latest releases. Yes, we could probably get a similar range of music elsewhere but this stuff is built in and works right out of the box. For all of us, it's a game changer in how we consume and enjoy music.

    Just my 2p

    1. tony72

      Re: Satisfied Customer

      You forgot to add "Can I get an Amen?"

    2. Geoffrey W

      Re: Satisfied Customer

      And if, for whatever reason, you cease paying for the service then all that music is gone, or so I would assume. I'm not signing up to find out. At least with bought CD's you still have that investment no matter what happens. Can you still play stuff when offline? Is it the same quality as a CD? And sometimes, especially these days, there is a dearth of things to buy so some months, often many in a row, I would have to pay nothing to listen to music coz there's nothing new worth getting. Now, I DO subscribe to streaming video but with that service when I watch something most of the time I never want to see it again, while music, I play favourites over and over again. For my household its a game that doesn't need changing. Not by Apple nor any other service either.

      That's my 2p

      1. bri

        Re: Satisfied Customer @ Geoffrey W

        YMMV, it really depends on what you listen to and how. For instance, I listen to the music all the time and even very good things get pretty boring fast. So I like to listen to new music (new for me, not necessarily released recently), I like to explore different genres. With traditional approach, it gets expensive while with streaming it is flat rate. I like it. Whether the provider is Apple, Spotify or Deezer, is fairly immaterial. And when I really like something, I buy a CD for that quality time.

        Granted, when you stop paying, then the service goes and so does everything you haven't explicitly purchased. But if you have trouble paying USD10-15 a month, you have really different kind of problems and music obviously isn't high on your priorities list.

        As for quality, streaming is usually of lower quality than physical medium (OK, Deezer is little different). The same goes for video (there are more artifacts on streamed video). However, if you don't listen to the music in a quiet room, with good noise dampening, some sensible hifi, then it is nigh impossible to really appreciate the added quality of physical medium, not mentioning that only handful of releases are mastered well. Listening to Deezer or FLAC while on the go is complete waste of bandwidth/storage.

        1. Geoffrey W


          My mileage certainly does vary from yours and the OP, but that's OK. This isn't a "My preferences are better than yours" thing.

          I don't listen to music all the time and like to actually sit down and listen to something, so music IS high on my list of priorities and I can afford $10 a month but just begrudge giving it to Apple (or anyone else) for something I have little use for. If I'm going to give away a tenner I'd like to give it to someone who needs it more than Apple does.

          If I want something new then there's always the radio: BBC 6 Music has some "John Peel Lite" shows that are worth listening to. Still miss Peely.Or even use that tenner to buy some music mags occasionally and read some reviews the retro way. Or read The Quietus. (Note: If anyone is tempted to try Joanna Newsome based on the rave reviews she gets then do try to listen for free first: I've never heard anything so hideous as her off tune voice. She sounds like a tone deaf three year old girl who's been drinking helium infused beer. Horrible Horrible Horrible...OTOH Lindsay Fuller and The Cheap Dates, is wonderful - go get her "You, Anniversary" immediately. Cruelly unappreciated.)

          The rest of the time I like to listen to the silence in the woods and the voices in my head telling me "That bit of code is crap. Re-write it."

      2. Daniel Hall

        Re: Satisfied Customer

        Just want to give you a heads up that those 50 upvotes were from 40+ year old men who love nothing more than getting in their BMW, putting their shades on and putting that overplayed crowded house CD on full volume.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Satisfied Customer

          "Just want to give you a heads up that those 50 upvotes were from 40+ year old men who love nothing more than getting in their BMW, putting their shades on and putting that overplayed crowded house 8-Track cartridge on full volume."

          FTFY :-)

    3. Bota

      Re: Satisfied Customer

      You have apple routers?

      1. Fitz_

        Re: Satisfied Customer

        "You have apple routers?"

        Presumably you are not familiar with Apple's Airport series of wifi routers?

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Satisfied Customer

        "You have apple routers?"

        Well they sure ain't Windows routers :-)

    4. Turtle

      @ Vira Re: Satisfied Customer

      "Whereas before we would each buy our own music every month - an album here, a few single tracks there - it would soon add up to far more than the Apple Music subscription cost."

      "We all have the freedom to explore new music, revisit our favourite bands and get the latest releases."

      Note that not only have you greatly diminished the amount of money that you spend on music but you have also managed to greatly diminish the income that your "favourite bands" earn for their music.

      Of course, I not sure if you either 1) recognize that fact, or 2) care.

      "Just my 2p."

      Or less, if you can find a way.

    5. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Satisfied Customer

      Far from money savers, I find all the music streamers to be a complete waste of money.

      I already own the right to listen to 99% of the music I'll ever want to listen to, so Apple or Spotify or whoever will have me pay for it again. Or at least have me pay to have it re-delivered to me in a different, not completely reliable fashion.

      Most people who trialled apple music turned off the subscription immediately after signing up so they would get their free 3 months.

      1. banalyzer

        Re: Satisfied Customer

        Mostly I'm with you, but for the trip to and from work spotify is a good way of listening to new stuff from different artists in the genres that you prefer.

        I'll listen to a few tracks and if I like it I'll hunt down a CD, if not no real loss of time because you're travelling.

        It certainly has its uses and helps me expand my music collection without wasting money.

    6. d3vy Silver badge

      Re: Satisfied Customer

      "For all of us, it's a game changer in how we consume and enjoy music."

      The game hasn't changed, apple just put it in a new box and shoved it on your phone, streaming audio has been around for some time.

      I think the biggest issue is that over time it's alot of money.. ~$120 a year with nothing to show for it at the end.

      I've been using deezer free and buying any music that I feel that I might want to keep, its considerably cheaper than a paid subscription service and Im not tied to any one service..

    7. Simon Buttress

      Re: Satisfied Customer

      Shill alert


      1. earl grey Silver badge

        Re: Satisfied Customer

        I thought you said Gromit....and i like Gromit. You can keep the barf... if you're a Mog.

    8. Vince

      Re: Satisfied Customer

      And as a non-Apple household, I like that I can use Spotify on my Android, Blackberry Windows and Windows Phone devices, that they work flawlessly with my Pioneer amplifier, or my Sony Audio Unit and so on.

      Horses for courses - although I also like that I',m not funding the tragic "Beats 1" "radio" station.

  3. julianh72

    What about Google Play Music?

    I'm surprised that Google Play Music doesn't feature in your market analysis. It has both free and paid-for "All Access", and surely they must rank in the Top 5?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What about Google Play Music?

      I was wondering the same thing. I've been a user since the start and wouldn't want to be without it now. So far I've not found anything missing from its catalogue that I'd want to listen to, its features are great (love the smart playlists, the "I'm feeling lucky" radio, and of course the ability to upload 50,000 of your own MP3s to its library, not to mention offline playback etc. etc. etc. For some reason though nobody seems to mention it. A shame, as it's a great service.

      BTW The free access to GPM is US-only as far as I'm aware, unless you're playing your own music.

    2. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: What about Google Play Music?

      Also Amazon. I'm not sure it can be separated from Prime so a bit tricky to get accurate stats on users, but I'd be surprised if it's not well ahead of Tidal.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple is, as always the new IE

    Non standard and near proprietary throughout.

    It keeps singing the oh so sweet music of lucre.

  5. DavidJB

    "Spotify remains the largest in the market with 75m users, of which 20m are paying $9.99 a month (and the equivalent in other countries)"

    Really? Source please. Spotify claim to have 20 million 'paying' subscribers, but an unknown and possibly large proportion of those are paying heavily discounted rates, such as $1 or £1 for a 3 months trial period. So far as I know, Spotify have given no figure for the number paying the full subscription rate.

  6. PhilipN Silver badge


    Less than 1M users? But each one paying 25 or even 12 bucks PER MONTH is still a sh**load of money.

    1. Vic

      Re: Tidal

      Less than 1M users? But each one paying 25 or even 12 bucks PER MONTH is still a sh**load of money.

      Doesn't that rather depend on how close to that 1M users they actually have?


  7. Chairo

    Apple Music

    Why do I suddenly have the tune of "Yellow Submarine" in my ear?

    Mine's the vinyl one...

  8. Youngdog

    Sign up seamlessly?

    Are you sure El Reg? I was told by my phone that my free subscription was ending and given a very clear yes/no choice on its renewal. The fact I chose not too and had no problems removing the Apple Music options from my Music app suggests Apple weren't being as shifty as your article suggests.

    1. Fitz_

      Re: Sign up seamlessly?

      This is The Register in full-on anti-Apple diatribe. How dare you come in here with your 'facts'.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

          Re: Sign up seamlessly?

          Do you really want to 'up' your Downvote Total that badly.

          You are asking a question that has an obvious answer.... The folks here hate Apple/Crapple/Jobs and everything the Fruity company stands for even when they are doing the right thing (encryption on iPhones).

          Apple is the new MS i.e. a figure of hate to pretty well all readers/commentards here. Get used to it.

      2. sabroni Silver badge

        Re: This is The Register in full-on anti-Apple diatribe.

        It's what they do, to all the big corps, not just Apple. If it's too upsetting for you to read something that isn't full on pro-apple marketing bullshit then you're in the wrong place.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    $10 bucks a month?

    By crikey that's a load of money!

    I still prefer to be selective and only buy CDs of what I really like.*

    It's cheaper and I get to keep the media.

    * while they exist.

    1. Fitz_

      Re: $10 bucks a month?

      The big secret of streaming services is... *you can still buy CDs*.

      Well populated streaming services are great for discovering new bands, and if you really like something enough to buy the CD (and that band still sells CDs in this age), trust me when I say the band will really appreciate you buying one. (And a shirt... and ESPECIALLY show tickets).

      1. d3vy Silver badge

        Re: $10 bucks a month?

        "The big secret of streaming services is... *you can still buy CDs*."

        If that's what your using it for youd use a free service and put up with the *infrequent* ads...

        Ps. Radio.. That's what your describing radio on the internet.

        1. Naselus

          Re: $10 bucks a month?

          "Ps. Radio.. That's what your describing radio on the internet."

          And cars with doors that open LIKE THIS, or LIKE THIS.

  10. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Nobody knows...

    Nobody knows what the future holds. Someone above commented about the use of CD's - the only worry there is to plan for the day when optical drives disappear off the landscape - your CD collection needs to be stored somewhere safe on say a NAS drive. Whereas all these music for rent services - what happens when they turn round and say that they are going to terminate their service? You're going to have to move to another service and as a result are totally dependent on the extent of their selection. I was pleasantly surprised by the range of music Spotify has (and I like some pretty obscure stuff), but there are still tracks I have possessed on CD or vinyl which aren't on Spotify - and I doubt whether it's licencing issues as other tracks from the same artist are calalogued.

    The wild card in the mix is arguably services like YouTube where you don't need to fire up any proprietary music repository in order to listen to many popular albums. If someone mentions an album I haven't heard for a while, or I'm trying to find the answer to a question about music YouTube will usually be the first tool I will use to find it.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Nobody knows...

      Objectively of course, you are right. There is no way of telling how long the optical disk format will last.

      However, there is good reason to believe that CDs will be around for quite a long time. The medium is cheap and reliable, and stores enough data for an album. Nobody is going to want to put more than 80 minutes of music in one album. I'm guessing that many albums are in the 40 minutes mark or thereabouts. So the CD is good enough.

      The CD came into existence as an extension of the floppy disk and pretty much obliterated it in a rather short time. When more data needed to be stored, we got the DVD. Now, the DVD has been extended to BluRay. I'm sure that, if need be, we'll get another extension that will take us into terabyte optical storage territory.

      But I really don't see what tech could replace optical storage as cheaply and reliably. It can't be magnetic, because that is not a reliable long-term storage medium. Holographic is an eventuality, but labs are still tinkering with that and nothing is in view yet. Even if holographic tech does appear, it will most likely look like another DVD format.

      So I don't think we have to worry about CD tech disappearing any time soon. But yes, who knows what we'll have in a hundred years ? Even so, if it looks like a DVD, there's a good chance the reader will still know about that old CD format from the previous millenium.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Re: it's application was completely different to floppy disks

          Okay, I get your point.

          Nonetheless, floppies disappeared in software boxes and were replaced by CDs due to the practical side of Windows on 1 CD instead of 48 floppies.

          And the industry liked the idea of locking content on CD, which they did more or less successfully, and which was all but impossible on floppy disks.

          USB keys, ultimately, replaced the floppy in everyday data transfers, I agree. But the CD set the floppy disk on the path to oblivion.

    2. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: Nobody knows...

      But this is a streaming service. Unlike drm sales, they make no pretense of giving you anything. It's paid-for radio.

  11. Mage Silver badge

    "automatically subscribed"

    This should be illegal use of credit card details.

    For ANYTHING you should have to "opt in", not by default be in and have to opt out. Misuse of personal info.

    1. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: "automatically subscribed"

      Tis all in the wording.

      You subscribe to the paid-for service and are given three months free and the right to cancel.

  12. Dr Stephen Jones

    No Android version yet

    This is a solid start - Spotify should be worried. Spotify's conversion rate is not great.

    Apple has promised an Android app but not delivered it yet, so that should add some numbers.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I would pay for a service to not hear any of his stuff on the radio

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Jay-Z

      now is time for the 'can i get an amen' "Amen!" I don't know his music, and glad of it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Jay-Z

      "I would pay for a service to not hear any of his stuff on the radio"

      Only Jay-Z?

  14. chivo243 Silver badge

    This is why my AppleID

    has no credit card associated with it... It used to, but thanks to ShittyBank canceling my credit card due to lack of use, there is no longer a valid credit card to associate with Apple. Seems I should be thankful that one behemoth has saved me from another, but I'm not...

    another advantage is that the boy can't make in App purchases when I'm not looking.

    1. Chris King

      Re: This is why my AppleID

      Mine never had a credit card associated with it. In the rare event I might actually want to buy something, I'll just add a voucher to the account and redeem that.

    2. Hans 1 Silver badge

      Re: This is why my AppleID

      Mine expired, it does remind the kids that it needs renewing, but nothing serious ...

  15. BasculeW

    Audio quality is king

    Despite having multiple Apple devices, and while accepting that there is merit in these services for many, Apple music still fails to offer a high quality feed, not even up to Spotify standards. This makes it fine for mobiles / in car use, but IMO not worth the cost. Having tried Spotify (and other services), it's an ongoing frustration of vast selections of content delivered in a dumbed-down suit-the-masses quality format. These, along with 320k feeds from ad-free stations like Radio Paradise, great for background music, but when you really want to sit and listen? It has taken Tidal to break this, and be the first serious alternative to the monthly CD purchases or HD audio downloads - the quality in it's lossless HiFi format is absolutely superb (but so it should be) and I'm happily paying the £20 per month - very happy indeed, the app is good, the integration with the HiFi is good, the selection is good and the quality is superb - and no, not remotely a fan of Jay-z or his Mrs! You don't need topflight kit to hear this difference, any half-decent headphones will be a revelation... (Naim streamer at home for sure, but laptop and good headphones at work are still superb on Tidal..)

    1. Joel 1

      Re: Audio quality is king

      This reminds me of when I posted to a forum asking if it was possible to run some speakers in the kitchen (note, a set of parcel shelf cheap car speakers) using cat5 cable from my stereo. I was wiring up my house and wondering whether to put a socket on top of the kitchen cupboards. The alternative was running some dedicated bell wire.

      The replies I got were of the variety that I couldn't possibly live with anything less than a maximum of 1 metre of solid gold bars connecting £2000 quid speakers to my amplifier, or else ears would bleed and everyone would take their own life rather than put up with the torture of such sub-standard audio reproduction.

      In the end I thought that there was more copper in the cat5 than the bell wire, and as I was wiring everything anyway, why not give it a go.

      It worked fine.

      Sometimes audiophiles aren't able to see the world in the way that the rest of the world do. Many people are happy with "good enough". Transistor AM radios did very well throughout the 60's, 70's and 80's...

      1. Hans 1 Silver badge

        Re: Audio quality is king

        People hear with differing sensibilities, so good amp and speakers are a must for me! The wiring should be thick for reduced impedance as that would lower the signal strength and, as such, the volume which "might" introduce noise (the latter (noise) ONLY if placed before the amp), the cable does not need to be gold, though. The gold connectors on sockets are, I think, to prevent corrosion ... some audiophile lunatic came up with the "gold conducts leccy better" so "conducts sound better" and that stuck with the marketing teams of different brands.

        There is a world between e.g. Keane's "Somewhere only we know" on iTunes and on CD (Same Album, same cover), it might be a different mix or the compression algorithm used completely "deleted" some of the sounds.

  16. earl grey Silver badge

    Millions of people forget to cancel Apple Music subscription

    Well played.

    Since i can't give you a thumbs up and a beer...

    Have a beer!

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