MUSIC WARS

Spotify and Pandora are doing their best to blow off Apple Music as a rival

Spotify and Pandora were dubbed the Coca-Cola and Pepsi of streaming music on Monday at Advertising Week, an annual gathering of the marketing industry in New York.

So what does that make Apple Music? RC Cola, joked Pandora’s chief marketing officer, Simon Fleming-Wood.

During a panel on streaming music, executives from Pandora and Spotify downplayed the impact that Apple Music might have on the streaming space.

“At my time at Pandora there have been over 30 ‘Pandora killers,’” said Fleming-Wood, who has worked at Pandora for more than four years. “We’ve developed a thick skin as it relates to new entrants’ ability to unseat us from our leadership position in this country.”

He also pointed out that this is Apple’s second attempt in three years to disrupt the streaming space. Its first, iTunes Radio, more directly competed with Pandora, which targets radio listeners. “At that time, we saw some occasional listeners sample it for the first month and very little, if any, long-term impact on our growth,” Fleming-Wood said. “We’re seeing a very similar impact this time.”

It’s a crucial time for streaming newcomer Apple Music, which launched on June 30. It’s nearing the end of its three-month trial period and users will soon have to decide whether to begin paying $9.99 a month to keep listening or dump the service. That’s when the battle for listeners will truly begin.

“If for them to succeed, they had to hurt either one of us, it doesn’t look like they’re succeeding,” said Fleming-Wood. “But if it’s a category growth play then obviously we would both be supportive of that.”

Consumers have shown a willingness to shell out for streaming services. In 2014, the number of paying users of subscription services rose 46% from a year earlier to an estimated 41 million, according to IFPI.

International incumbent Spotify, which offers on-demand streaming like Apple Music, also downplayed Apple as a serious threat to its business. Chief marketer Seth Farbman suggested that a little friendly competition could be good for both services.

“It makes you really focus on how you’re different, how you’re better and what space you want to occupy,” said Farbman. “It really sharpens you.”

Farbman went so far as to say that its new rival could give the entire streaming music space a lift.

“We are at the very beginning of rapid, rapid growth for the entire industry,” said Farbman. “Apple is really helping us both validate streaming as the future of the music industry.”

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