Beats founder Jimmy Iovine discusses Apple’s (Steve Jobs) view of streaming music

Lady Gaga introduces her new signarure in-earphone HeartBeats at MONSTER booth at CES 2010 in Las Vegas, NV on January 7, 2010. © RD/ Erik Kabik/ Retna Digital

AllThingsD sat with Beats CEO Jimmy Iovine at CES 2013 yesterday to talk streaming music, and—of course—the topic of Apple and Steve Jobs came up.

The interview painted Iovine as a mastermind, because he can sell expensive headphones to the average, money-pinching consumer, and so he would naturally be the ideal man to tackle the music subscription business. Iovine, in fact, has tried to find the solution for nearly a decade. In the early 2000s, he even approached Jobs and tried to get Apple to go the subscription route:

Once I went to see [Intel executive] Les Vadasz. I was running Interscope at time. He was a very nice man and he listened to me. I said, “You know, we could really help you guys.” He said, “You know, Jimmy, it’s a really wonderful story. But not every industry was made to last forever.”

So I was like “wow,” and I called [former Universal head] Doug Morris, and I said, “We’re fucked. These guys don’t want to take over our land — they want to come over and take our water and go back. They like where they are.” So from that point on, I was like, “You know what, this is going to cave. We need subscription. We really do.” I’ve just been single-minded about it since then.

In 2002, 2003, Doug asked me to go up to Apple and see Steve. So I met him and we hit it off right away. We were really close. We did some great marketing stuff together: 50 Cent, Bono, Jagger, stuff for the iPod — we did a lot of stuff together.

But I was always trying to push Steve into subscription. And he wasn’t keen on it right away. [Beats co-founder] Luke Wood and I spent about three years trying to talk him into it. He was there, not there … he didn’t want to pay the record companies enough. He felt that they would come down, eventually.

I don’t know what [Apple media head] Eddy Cue would say — I’m seeing him soon — but I think in the end Steve was feeling it, but the economics …he wanted to pay the labels [for subscriptions], but [the fees were] not going to be acceptable to them.

Maybe Cue will be more willing. Or not. What do you think?

Get the full report at AllThingsD.

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