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Jimmy Iovine says Apple Music paid signups going well, no free ad-based tier needed


Speaking at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit in San Francisco, Jimmy Iovine said that “Apple has taught me not to give out numbers [but] I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t doing well.”

Iovine said that while a free ad-supported tier could allow the company to rapidly acquire subscribers, a tactic popularised by Spotify, that wasn’t a route Apple wanted to take … 

Reports CNET..

Iovine said Apple could quickly raise [subscriber numbers] to 500 million if it offered a free ad-supported model.

“We don’t want to do that. We believe that we’ve built something powerful enough and strong enough that it will work.”

Iovine said that free tiers were unfair to artists, noted The Verge.

Free is a real issue. This whole thing about freemium, maybe at one time we needed it. But now it’s a shell game. These companies are building an audience on the back of the artist.

In a nod to Steve Jobs’ famous comment about Apple being at the intersection of technology and the liberal arts, Iovine said that both sides of the equation were needed.

Tech companies don’t have it all figured out, either. “Just because you go to Burning Man doesn’t make you Hunter Thompson,” he noted of the tech industry’s profoundly uncultured perspective on art. “The media business needs to have tech people and give them stripes and the tech businesses needs to give media people stripes,” he added. “Or it’s going to keep being the Star Wars bar in Tatooine.

Jimmy Iovine wasn’t the only senior Apple exec at the summit: Jony Ive also spoke fondly about Steve Jobs and his new role at Apple.

Photo: The Verge

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  1. thecodee - 7 years ago

    I love Apple but I wouldn’t pay for Apple Music in its current state. They need to separate Apple Music from that bloated piece of legacy software called iTunes. I’ve been a long-time Spotify subscriber, and have also tried using Rdio. Apple Music is by far and away the least reliable and the least user-friendly of the three.

    • lkrupp215 - 7 years ago

      Nonsense. All you are doing is parroting the tech blogger meme.

      • nonyabiness - 7 years ago

        iTunes is still necessary for digital media management, but Apple Music *is* unpredictable and unreliable. Multiple instances I’ve been listening to a song where it just cuts out and can’t reconnect. And many other times, I’ll select to listen to a song and it won’t play. Apple’s cloud services still need some work unfortunately.

      • thecodee - 7 years ago

        I’m sure you meant “theme”, otherwise I’m not familiar with the meme you’re referring to. And I’m sorry my personal experience with Apple Music has offended you so much.

    • lkrupp215 - 7 years ago

      All this hate for Apple Music is no different than what happens when cellular carriers are discussed. All the malcontents come out of the woodwork to declare AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, etc. as the spawn of Satan. Everybody has an axe to grind about something.

      Apple Music works perfectly well for almost everybody that uses it. Like troubleshooting forums only the ones with problems post while the majority of satisfied users have no reason to say anything. Negativity always wins the day. If all the negative crap spouted about OS X, iOS, iPhones, Watch, iTunes, Apple Music were the actual majority opinion Apple would have been out of business years ago.

    • rnc - 7 years ago


      I love Apple Music, yes, iTunes is due for a refresh, but Apple Music SERVICE is so so much better than Spotify that I’ve signed up for AM.

      Spotify is also no better on OS X, their App is not OS X native, and they could make one, and they should!

      But I feel Apple is preparing an iTunes overhaul for OS X and Windows (on Windows, yes, it’s really bad)

    • Smigit - 7 years ago

      Disagree. If I want to listen to music I don’t want to have to use two applications to access the music I own and the music I’m streaming.

      I think they could divide some iTunes functionality out, device syncing in particular which I think could become a stand alone OS function given books already has its own app, and the App Store could be pulled out of iTunes too. Might negate the need for iTunes to be open too to do a WiFi sync with a system if it’s an OS function vs an iTunes function.

      But certainly I think all music playback should remain alongside one another.

      • galley99 - 7 years ago

        Some folks prefer to keep things separate. That’s why I’m sticking with Rhapsody.

      • thecodee - 7 years ago

        Perhaps I should have worded my thought clearer. But yes, what I meant was essentially what you said, separating music from everything else.

  2. rnc - 7 years ago

    What he meant with the Star Wars bar?

    • I don’t get it, either, even though I very much appreciate his broader point about tech folks thinking they “get” art (or anything) after 30 seconds in a Wikipedia article.

  3. Mark (@markmacbook) - 7 years ago

    What is Steve Jobs’ new role at Apple?

  4. Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 7 years ago

    What job position does Iovine really have? He’s not listed at this site as a Senior Apple Executive.

  5. Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 7 years ago

    Iovine doesn’t realize that terrestrial radio is what people would normally listen to because it was free and most people listen to the radio in their car. I don’t think the majority of the population is willing to pay enough money on a monthly basis for music. That’s the problem. Did traditional radio put the music industry in a crippling position? NO. The problem is that most of the music coming out sucks and the music industry is afraid to admit that people simply don’t want to pay for crappy music.

  6. mike_ch (@mtc) - 7 years ago

    Jimmy is one of those guys who really needs to learn to keep his mouth shut. If he thinks Spotify is bad and he needs an Apple-led music service to keep the label industry afloat, all it does is send a lot of the people he wants to pay for music into the arms of Spotify. An industry lifer who got well off on promoting people’s music (and is now an Apple board member besides) whining that he needs to get people to pay more for things is the kind of thing that can sink a new Apple initiative.

    He’s one of those guys I would go out of my way to avoid supporting. The RIAA model is as outdated and obsolete as it ever was, and after twenty years of fighting we’re so close to killing it off that he cries for big daddy Apple to save ’em.


Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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