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Apple is trying to improve Apple Music, iTunes VP says

In the wake of complaints from some users about Apple's new music streaming service, a company exec says "there's a lot of work going into making the product better."

Apple Music still needs some fixing, says an iTunes exec.


Apple is working on Apple Music in an attempt to make the new music-streaming service better.

Oliver Schusser, vice president of iTunes International, told UK news site The Guardian that Apple is "adding features and cleaning up certain things" in Apple Music. Schusser added that the Apple Music Connect feature, in which artists can share their music directly with listeners, is growing, but "we still have a bit of homework to be done for the rest of the year."

Launched on June 30, Apple Music is the company's attempt to compete with such rivals as Spotify, Tidal, Rdio and Rhapsody for a slice of the growing music-streaming business. The service has received kudos for its playlists and music content. But it's gotten a thumb's down from some users complaining about its overall interface and glitches when trying to sync with their existing iTunes libraries.

Certain bugs are to be expected with any new service. Apple Music is still available on a three-month trial basis, but that freebie will end September 30. At that point, trial users will have to decide if they want to shell out $9.99 for an individual plan or $14.99 for a shared family plan. If key aspects of the service are still acting wonky, then many people may decide not to continue with a paid subscription.

Asked about user complaints, Schusser told The Guardian that Apple is receiving a lot of feedback and that the product is the priority.

"Remember, this was a very big launch in 110 markets instantly, so we get a ton of feedback," Schusser added. "We're obviously trying to make it better every day."

Just how many people has Apple Music attracted so far?

By August 6, five weeks after its debut, Apple Music had picked up 11 million trial users, Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet software and services, told USA Today at the time. Cue, who said he was "thrilled with the numbers so far," said that 2 million people had already subscribed to the family plan but he didn't reveal any numbers on the individual plan. Apple may share more recent figures on Apple Music adoption at its iPhone event on September 9.

The true value of Apple Music to the company may lie less in the sales generated and more in the number of people Apple can add to its ecosystem. In July, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster forecast that Apple Music would add less than 1 percent (around $1.8 billion) to the company's revenue for 2016. And that's only if the service is able to match Spotify's paid subscriber base of 15 million, which Munster thinks is highly unlikely. Instead, new users who sign up for Apple Music become potential buyers of iPhones, iPads and other Apple devices as well as apps, movies, TV shows and other iTunes content.

But that raises another question. What does Apple Music mean for iTunes? Users now have two ways of grabbing music through Apple -- either subscribing to Apple Music for unlimited access to albums and songs from a range of artists or going to iTunes to pay for each album or song individually. Can the two services co-exist, or will they compete with each other? Schusser tackled that issue in the interview with The Guardian.

The iTunes exec pointed to a Dr. Dre album called "Compton: A Soundtrack," which was streamed 25 million times during its first week but also captured almost 500,000 downloads via iTunes during the same time.

"That [Compton] is a really good example of how streaming and downloads can be successful side-by-side," Schusser said. "What we've proven is that when there's great content, customers will buy as well as listen."