Is Apple Music essential for Apple's future?
Great question... "essential?" Maybe.
From what I know (from some inside sources), Apple Music isn't profitable for Apple. They treat it more as a way to sell their hardware. Smart. In my humble opinion, Apple made the shift a handful of years ago to go more down the "consumer" side of the marketplace, rather than the "professional" side. As a producer who uses Apple products, that aggravates me, but I understand the decision from a financial standpoint... more "everyday" folks use their products. And if you can have a music service available that works great on their own devices, you'll continue to have sales going forward.
Also, they've committed to going down this road by setting precedences. If Apple took Apple Music away, or changed the pricing structure drastically, I think they'd find themselves in hot water (at least knee deep). So, whether they like it or not, they've painted themselves in a corner and need Apple Music (at some level) to keep people engaged in buying their hardware. They've made some boneheaded moves since the passing of Mr. Jobs, so it'll be interesting to see how they maneuver going forward. And with small changes to their product lines (again, nothing earth-shattering for several years now), maybe Apple Music deserves more credit than I'm giving it for keeping users around.