It’s official. The Apple Music Festival has come to an end. As of 2017, after ten years, the music festival was done.
Throughout the years, the event formerly known as the iTunes Music Festival had a major impact on breaking new artists and attracting eyes to what became known as the Apple Music platform.
In 2017, however, changes in the world of music festivals along with Apple’s own approach to music marketing meant doing away with the festival. Though Apple Music continues to engage in various formats of live music, the company has given up on having a specific emphasis on live performances.
What Was The Apple Music Festival?
In late summer and early fall, from the year 2007 through to 2016, Apple held a monthly music event in the UK which became known in the industry as the iTunes Music Festival.
The music festival featured nightly performances at London, UK venues including the Institute of Contemporary Arts, KOKO, and The Roundhouse.
Tickets were given away for free through Apple Music, iTunes, and DICE for local UK residents through a draw.
Performances were streamed live on all platforms and it was a major feature of iTunes for a long time. It proved to be so popular over the years that as iTunes eventually became Apple Music, so did the event when it changed its name to the Apple Music Festival in 2015.
Some of the biggest names in music headlined the Apple Music Festival including rock legends, folk icons, pop acts, the world’s top DJs, and critically acclaimed hip-hop artists including, most recently, Chance The Rapper.
The value of the iTunes Music Festival, or Apple Music Festival, was that it helped launch a lot of UK artists. A major reason why Adele is successful and artists like her is because of the initial support they received from platforms like the Apple Music Festival.
Why Is It So Difficult To Keep A Music Festival Alive?
Throughout the past 20 years, the music festival scene has been overrun with a lot of competition across the world. It is very difficult to compete with already-established brands, even if you’re Apple, iTunes, or corporations like it.
Every year, up to a dozen major festivals close up shop. With that, you often get new festivals that come along.
Is the music festival scene dying? No, certainly not. There are some who would say it’s as healthy as ever, with so many different music festivals and genre options to choose from. There are always new festival organizers coming to the table as well.
That said, when one of the world’s biggest companies pulls out of the music festival landscape, it does make you question what’s up.
The bottom line as to why Apple cancelled the Apple Music Festival, however, is that it stopped growing. While it may have been a terrific idea when it started, a decade later, it was in the shadow of other music festivals, including Glastonbury, Isle of Wight, Reading & Leeds, Download, and others.
Subsequently, the brand also found it more financially feasible to invest in other music projects. In hindsight, Apple made a beautiful pivot, invested in music more or less correctly, and were able to establish Apple Music as something special in the aftermath of saying goodbye to their music festival.
Where Is Apple Music Pooling Its Resources Today Instead Of Music Festivals?
Apple Music has focused on creating original content, in much the same way that Netflix has been so successful.
The company quickly reinvested the money it would have invested into the Apple Music Festival into initiatives, such as James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke spin-off, a Harry Styles documentary, as well as Beats 1 content, bringing in some of the biggest names in the music business to drive these efforts and generate publicity.
If you’re a committed fan of live music or the international music festival circuit, knowing that one of the world’s most publicized festivals has shut down kind of sucks.
However, music is a business. While the music industry is growing, it’s not growing across the board. Specific record labels and companies in music are losing money. Music festivals can lose money. Even streaming services like Spotify have areas not producing as much growth as others. To survive this ever-changing industry, cuts need to be made.
What came in the place of the Apple Music Festival was mainly exercises in branding. The ‘music’ aspect of Apple Music’s content strategy seemed to take a backseat to other aspects of its content strategy. There’s nothing wrong with that per se as the company continue to use music in all sorts of ways to this day. Live music is just not necessarily the focal point.
The Apple Music shows that the company has chosen to sponsor – i.e. Skepta, Haim, Arcade Fire, Lana Del Rey, and Vince Staples – shows the underground, trendy vibe they’re going for. The decision to sponsor Drake’s 2016 summer tour and its effort to brand new artists have all kept people coming back to the service. This was done with money that may have been put into the Apple Music Festival.
For anyone involved in the music industry, Apple Music has been successful in growing its brand and continues to do so. It’s unfortunate that the Apple Music Festival is no more but some would say it’s a necessary sacrifice if Apple Music’s intention is to divert those resources into more trendy, lucrative creativity.