iTunes and Spotify are aligning to compete

Apple and Spotify are on a war path to dominate the digital music space. Both are very fortified in their own successes but each have something to gain from their competitors' respective strongholds.

In the red corner...

iTunes, a juggernaut of the music industry also does a great job of delivering podcasts, music videos, movies, and television. Still, music has always been the essence of iTunes and its ability to remain king has been in question thanks to the onslaught of music streaming services.

Apple is working on expanding iTunes with a music streaming component through its Beats acquisition. Maybe at last I can stop feeling guilty about not using my huge expensive library of iTunes-purchased music.

In the blue corner...

Spotify, a one category service whose popularity is driven by people leaving behind the pay-per-song and pay-per-album model of music consumption. They have been growing veraciously and they've recently expanded their horizons into fitness, videos and podcasts.

Being a long-time Spotify user, I'm thrilled they're adding podcasts to the mix. Despite Marco Arment's superb Overcast app driving my podcast listening, I think Spotify has a lot to gain from it.

What not to expect

Both companies are certainly stretching outside their comfort zones and it's exciting to see. Undoubtedly users will be switching to and fro and how each company manages retention will be extremely critical. Music is laughably cheap to acquire now and merely offering more of it isn't enough.

With that said, I don't expect artists on music streaming services to start jumping ship like Taylor Swift did not so long ago. Spotify is in a very good position as a distribution platform and any artist would be stupid to ignore that.

Apple's strategy is to show up late. They let the market mature and then launch a product that is all the best parts. I expect Apple to be a very aggressive competitor. But I don't expect them dominate in the short term. Spotify will continue to be a reigning champion of music streaming for the foreseeable future.

As always, time will tell. But it sure is exciting to see the fruits of a competitive market.

May 25, 2015