Jimmy Iovine came to Apple to start a new label and like HBO and Netflix, Apple will sign talent and produce records, they certainly can afford it and have the infrastructure to promote and sell it.
If Apple’s smart, and everything indicates they are, they will sign acts, produce recordings and hold music back from Spotify, etc. indefinitely. Game, set, match.
Musicians and songwriters have seen their careers crater and their paychecks disappear. For many working artists the digital revolution has been a nightmare. Artists from existing labels would join Apple in a heart beat.
Speaking out just after the Beats deal was announced, Jimmy Iovine, Co-Founder of Beats Electronics and one of the few remaining music business icons, had this to say:
We have a lot of dreams for the subscription service, it is very important to every recording engineer, producer, artist, songwriter and the music industry….we have to get this model right, we don’t know the exact model yet, but we need to put steroids into this thing and get it done quickly, Apple is the best company in the world… and 800 million subscribers doesn’t hurt either.
In an interview at the Code Conference, literally hours after the Apple, Beats Electronics deal was announced. Mr. Iovine and Eddy Cue, long time head of iTunes, spoke in detail about Beats Music; its emphasis on curated playlists and their shared passion and respect for music. For those looking for something positive in an industry hammered by technology, this interview was nothing less than a revelation.
Imagine if movies just listed the starring actors and nothing else?
In the past year, since Apple purchased Beats Music, they’ve hired top Dj’s from the BBC and elsewhere, as well as music writers and reviewers who will add much needed context and detail to the music their subscribers are listening to.
No question, music has been minimized on the internet; listeners have no idea who even played on the songs they are listening to. Sure they may know the lead vocalist, but the mythology has been lost. Those of us who grew up with FM radio and purchased LPs and CDs knew who played on the records, who produced them, even where they were recorded.
Mr. Iovine was actually one of the first people from the music business to meet with Steve Jobs and Eddy Cue back in 2003 to see a demonstration of iTunes. Mr. Iovine ‘got it’ and helped Apple convince a doubting music industry to allow iTunes to sell music downloads.
The sticking point? Jobs insisted that iTunes offer songs and not just albums for sale as digital downloads. Jobs was right. Widespread piracy was making music free for an entire generation and without an inexpensive solution even more people would have felt ‘entitled’ to get their music without paying.
Now, a decade later, just hours after Mr. Iovine had officially joined Apple, the two men were together, once again, to see what they could do to save what’s left of the music business in 2014. For the first time, since Apple introduced the iTunes store over a decade ago, digital download sales of music were down. The challenge for Apple? How to promote Apple Music without destroying iTunes.
Their solution may be in building a music streaming service rooted in discovery that transitions the listener to iTunes and creates an opportunity to sell more music to those who prefer to own it, not rent it. And don’t underestimate Mr. Iovine’s value in putting together exclusive release deals with top artists. He’s not just connected, he has iTunes as part of the deal and in today’s marketplace, even the biggest artists are looking for ways to sell more music.
Mr. Iovine understands that most people who listen to music don’t want to search for it. They want it simple and they want a human connection with the music they hear. As a music guy, he knows that It takes people who love music, and know music, to create great playlists, not the computer generated playlists that Pandora, Spotify and others use.
“You need curation, not give me your credit card here’s 20 million songs. Of course you have to have the right curated playlists. Without it you don’t have the emotion.”
Since those revelations a year ago, Apple has taken its’ time to sort through their options and survey the wreckage that is today’s music business. No question, they have the money and talent to do things differently. Why would Apple follow in the footsteps of companies who can’t seem to get beyond negative cash flow?