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Here’s the thing with Generation Z, that up-and-coming generation that makes up 26 percent of the U.S. population with more than $44 billion in disposable income: they really, really hate to wait.

If a Gen Zer wants to hear Omi’s “Cheerleader,” they want to hear it now.

Enter, Apple Music, launched today and billed as “A revolutionary streaming service, live worldwide radio, and an exciting way for fans to connect with artists.”

According to data from Nielsen, music streaming in the U.S. grew 54 percent in 2014, with over 164 billion songs streamed on-demand on platforms like Spotify, Rdio, Rhapsody, Vevo, and YouTube. In a typical week, 67 percent of music consumers listen to their tunes through any form of online streaming.

A three-month free trial offer, automatic download to iPhones, as well as credit cards already on file doesn’t hurt Apple Music’s chances in this market. The barrier to entry is relatively small. When it comes to Gen Z, the odds are equally in Apple’s favor: 20 percent of iPhone users are between the ages of 18-24, and with Apple Music, the opportunity to upsell to their parents – much the way families share Netflix accounts, with joint accounts of up to six users – is huge.

Ultimately, though, when it comes to Gen Z, what really separates Apple Music from the pack is its social platform for artists, aptly named Connect. Artists, like the social media savvy Fifth Harmony, already communicate on many other social networks — YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat — to share and connect to their younger fans. Social media is, for many, the key to gaining and retaining their fans. However, each social experience can feel siloed, as well as convoluted with multiple messages about different subjects.

Connect gives artists a single platform, and a huge audience, for sharing their music with fans. This unfiltered connection is huge for Gen Z, which, unlike generations before, doesn’t rely on brands or institutions to define what is cool. For Gen Z, it is more about “who I am” than “how I fit in.” Rather than the old “in” and “out” crowds, Gen Zer’s are fractured into an unimaginable selection of sub-crowds. Those who play violin, who are into soccer, who sew, AND write fan fiction. The ability for this generation to find others who share similar interests is limitless. And when they find them, they are relying on them for their perspectives, their opinions, their shared experiences And as a result, they don’t need brands as much. They don’t need institutions to inform them, or define for them who they are. They are doing it for themselves.

The key word is connect. With digital and physical music sales declining, artists and music industry professionals have needed to come up with other resources to increase revenue. So really developing that core (young) fan – one who buys tickets to shows and purchases merchandise – is one of the main ways for artists to make money today.

It’s good for Apple’s business, too. If artists can use Apple Music as the ultimate tool – to not only be compensated for their music and content, but also as a platform to promote music and content and engage directly with fans – the sky is the limit. The key is having popular artists buy into producing this exclusive content and music, and ensuring it truly resonates with the Gen Z audience.

Andrew Hall is a digital marketing consultant at global customer collaboration consultancy C Space.


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