Assuming Apple’s $US3.2 billion acquisition of Beats Electronics turns out to be true, the company’s co-founder, record producer Jimmy Iovine, is poised to take on an important role at Apple, directly advising CEO Tim Cook on creative matters.
And based on a really insightful interview Iovine had last year with AllThingsD’s Walt Mossberg, it’s starting to sound more and more like Apple isn’t necessarily investing in a bunch of poorly reviewed, overpriced headphones and an untested streaming music service, but the vision Iovine has for the future of music as a whole.
The interview is really good, and if you have a spare 15 minutes, you should watch the whole thing. But here’s the gist of it: Iovine thinks the way we listen to music is broken. Back in the days of LPs, artists were able to carefully curate the order in which songs were listened to. But as digital music began to take over with the invention of CDs and MP3 downloads, the art of curation began to fade. Iovine believes technology should be used to make more sense of the zillions of songs we have access to these days and play what you want to hear when you want to hear it.
“There’s a sea of music out there, but there’s no curation for it,” Iovine told Mossberg in the interview. “It’s all about what song comes next…I guarantee everyone here struggles to get music for the event or thing they’re doing at the moment.”
“We’re trying to step in,” Iovine continued. “We’re going to try to harness that and get people to listen to music in a comfortable way.”
Beats Music, the new streaming service from Beats, attempts to do just that. When you first boot up the app, it asks you for a sampling of genres and artists you like. It then creates customised streaming stations that you can listen to based on those tastes. You can also tell the app to play music based on what you’re doing (working, exercising, etc.) as Iovine described nearly a year before the product launched.
Iovine also had some thoughts on Apple and the state of iTunes, which is starting to feel stale in the age of on-demand streaming music. iTunes, he said, is great for buying indivdual albums and tracks, but not much else.
“iTunes was great, but it needs to step forward now,” Iovine said. “Most technology companies are culturally inept. They’re never going to get curation right.”
That’s the kind of forward-thinking attitude Apple is likely going after. $US3.2 billion is a high price to pay for what essentially could be an acqui-hire. But keep in mind that it’s a minuscule price for Apple, which has over $US150 billion in cash just sitting in the bank.
Here’s the lightly edited video of Mossberg’s interview with Iovine:
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