Earlier this week, Neil Young pulled his music from Spotify after falling out with the platform over its hosting of Joe Rogan and COVID misinformation. So now, of course, rival streamer Apple Music is courting Young and his fans, sending out tweets, playlists, and even push notifications to brand itself as “The home of Neil Young.”
It’s all a bit of theatrical silliness, of course. Neil Young is a legendary songwriter, yes, but his presence or absence won’t decide the fate of this or that streaming platform. He’s no Kanye or Taylor Swift. Instead, Apple is simply indulging in the time-honored corporate tradition of inserting itself into a relevant news cycle while the going is good.
The company’s not been subtle about it either. It even placed a playlist of Young’s music at the front of its “browse” section under the heading “We Love Neil.”
lol @ this Apple Music push notification pic.twitter.com/eOh5Y5YhhU— Josh Billinson (@jbillinson) January 28, 2022
Pettiness aside, the spat does highlight differences between the two streamers. As The Verge’s Ashley Carman pointed out in a piece unpacking the decision to keep Rogan over Young, Spotify has put much more stock in podcasts in recent years as part a wider plan to diversify its content. Apple Music, by comparison, tends to presents itself as more of a pure music sell (not least because Apple has its own separate podcasts platform).
All the while this market triangulation continues, Spotify has actually been losing a little market share against rivals. Recent data from analysis agency Midia Research showed that while Spotify was the most popular music streaming service by a wide margin in 2021, with 31 percent of the market compared to second place Apple Music’s 15 percent, that figure had dipped from a 33 percent market share in 2020.
Spotify still grew in terms of the absolute number of subscribers along with the whole market, but it illustrates that the company’s lead is by no means secured forever.