New data is raising questions about the reasons behind the decision to axe the Apple Music Voice Plan. Photo Credit: Omid Armin
Yesterday, Apple Music discontinued its $4.99-per-month voice-only plan. Now, amid a well-documented major-label push for heightened streaming-subscription pricing, new data is raising questions about the precise reasons behind the Voice Plan shutdown.
When news of the voice-specific offering’s termination entered the media spotlight, logic pointed to low subscribership as the main contributor. Having rolled out in October of 2021, the cut-rate plan, “designed exclusively for Siri,” lacked the functionality and features of Apple Music’s other (more expensive) tiers.
(Additionally, those subscribed to the Apple Music Voice Plan, unlike individuals subscribed to different Apple Music plans, were unable to access the standalone Apple Music Classical platform at no extra charge.)
Also worth highlighting is the Voice Plan’s essential redundancy. Siri can likewise be used on other Apple Music plans, and higher-ups could have decided that it didn’t make sense to continue isolating the digital assistant on its own music tier.
In any event, data shared with Digital Music News has raised another (decidedly more interesting) possibility: Against the backdrop of a campaign for higher subscription pricing, Apple Music, the majors, and the broader industry may have opted to eliminate the Voice Plan because of its lower cost.
Of course, Apple Music, Spotify, Deezer, and others have already raised individual-tier prices in markets including the U.S. But major-label execs haven’t hesitated to disclose publicly their desire to further bump monthly charges and elevate ARPU. Deezer’s building out an “artist-centric” model developed in collaboration with Universal Music, and Spotify’s reportedly prepping a number of compensation pivots for Q1 2024.
Then there’s the aforementioned data, which suggests that the Apple Music Voice Plan may have been more popular than many believed. According to MusicWatch’s Russ Crupnick, the Voice Plan’s reach extended to approximately one in 10 overall Apple Music subscriptions.
Though Apple has long opted against attaching exact subscriber data to individual services like Apple Music and Apple TV+, CFO Luca Maestri earlier this week relayed that Apple boasted “well over” one billion total subscriptions as of the three months ended September 30th.
Plus, leaked figures over the summer indicated that Apple Music itself had 32.6 million subscribers in the U.S. alone as of February. Regardless of Apple Music’s current subscribership, the Voice Plan’s reported one-in-10 adoption rate means that total users could have been substantial.
Bigger picture, it’ll be worth monitoring during the coming months the status of the few remaining sub-$10 music subscriptions. While not entirely free of ads, Pandora Plus costs $4.99 per month in the States, as does Amazon Music Unlimited’s ad-free single-device plan, which is designed for Echo speakers and Fire TVs.