The real agenda for Apple Music has nothing to do with making people pay $US10 a month for music.
Jimmy Iovine has explained that the company’s real plan is to get every single artist in the world to put their music on the platform, no matter how small.
Apple has followed the launch of Apple Music with a huge marketing push, which didn’t target consumers.
Neither did it reel off a long list of famous musicians that had signed up to Apple Music. It still hasn’t announced which artists have come on board.
Instead, one of Apple’s first TV spots pointed out that kids making music in their bedrooms could — and should — put their work on the platform alongside bigger stars.
Speaking to The Guardian about music streaming revenues, Iovine expanded on this hidden agenda:
You come out, you build this service, and a lot of it is based on free. So if you have a hit record, you’re only being paid on 20% of it, because 80% of it is free. So this generation [of] artists, the next five to seven years, they have got to pay for the future? What’s that? No. No! That’s wrong from my viewpoint. From a musician’s standpoint.”
90% of [artists] were broke last week! These aren’t trust-fund people coming in making this music, y’know! Maybe there’s eight artists in the world that can just do anything they want financially, but there’s thousands of artists who could use a couple of bucks to get by and do this stuff right.”
So if you get 100m streams and you’re only really being paid on 20 million, that doesn’t work for the artist. Record companies will be here forever, but those artists will not be here forever. The individual who writes that song, at that moment, deserves to be compensated for it in a fair way.
If you look closely at his comments, Iovine is positioning Apple Music as a platform for smaller artists, too, rather than just for the “eight artists in the world that can just do anything they want financially.”
Apple even decided to launch an Apple Music app for Android, which still holds around an 80% share of the global smartphone market, and even more in Asia. This is an unprecedented move for Apple, but if it wants to get artists that have a big following in China or Japan on board, it can’t cut out Android users completely. It also needs to make sure that Android users don’t have an excuse to stick with Spotify or Pandora.
Iovine continually referred to competing streaming services like Spotify as “utilities,” and hinted that Apple wouldn’t just be changing music streaming, but changing lives.
“You can’t just have a utility,” he said in an interview with Billboard. “To get people to pay for something that you built, it has to be of service. It has to make somebody’s life better.”
Iovine went on to suggest that the music industry is in an “economic crisis’, when asked whether record labels had become greedy.
But in the Guardian interview, Apple software chief Eddy Cue pointed out that Apple’s Connect feature — which lets artists post previews of songs and videos, and well as photos and status updates, for their fans — would give them more control over where and when their music is distributed.
Addressing that economic crisis, it seems, means convincing every artist that Apple can look after their music better than their competitors can, and pay them better for the privilege.