Apple bolsters revamped Beats Music team with addition of BBC Radio’s Zane Lowe

Picture shows ZANE LOWE

The BBC announced today that Zane Lowe, who has worked as an award-winning Radio 1 DJ for nearly twelve years, is stepping down from his position in March and moving to California to take up a role at Apple. Lowe has long been regarded as one of the UK’s top sources for music discovery, and his show helped make many artists the stars they are today.

Lowe hasn’t publicly stated what role he’ll be filling at the Cupertino tech company, but it’s not hard to conclude that he’ll be lending his curation expertise to the big upcoming relaunch of the Beats Music streaming service. Beats Music, of course, is already staffed by music industry icons Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre.

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Happy Hour Podcast 001 | New iOS 9 details, Apple Watch launch, and Apple’s new Beats-based streaming service

happy-hour

Happy Hour is back and better than ever. Join us as we kick off the first episode and discuss everything you need to know about Apple’s master plan for iOS 9, a new music streaming service in the works, Apple Watch launch details, and more. The Happy Hour podcast is available for download on iTunes and through our dedicated RSS feed.

Click here to subscribe on iTunes or listen to the first episode embedded above.

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Opinion: Could Apple’s integrated streaming music service decimate the competition?

Image: Forbes

Image: Forbes

When Apple enters a new business, you know it’s not going to do so in a half-hearted, small way. When it launches its Apple-branded Beats Music service later this year, it’s a no-brainer to predict that it’s going to be a big deal for the music industry. With Apple’s deep integration of Beats into its existing iOS/iTunes ecosystem exclusively revealed by Mark Gurman added into the mix, I wonder whether the unique selling points being notched up by Apple could be enough to leave existing big-name players like Spotify, Google Play and Rdio dead in the water?

That’s rather a grand idea, of course. As of last month, Spotify reached 15 million paid subscribers–up 50% in the last six months alone. Beats Music had only a little over 100,000 subscribers at the time Apple bought the company, and is rumored to have only 2-3 times as many now. But an Apple-ified Beats Music service has four things going for it …  Read more

The Next Episode: Apple’s plans for Beats-based music service revealed

CueBeats

Six months after buying the subscription music service Beats Music, Apple is actively working to launch a completely new paid streaming music service that will compete with Spotify and Rdio. Yet to be named, the new service is entirely Apple-designed, yet leverages Beats’ technologies and music content, a collaboration that has thus far led to personnel challenges and delays. Multiple sources within Apple and the music industry have provided the first in-depth details of Apple’s upcoming streaming service, which we share below.

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Beats Music’s Ian Rogers auctioning lunch in LA or Cupertino for charity

iPhone 6 Beats Music

Update 2/5: Auction just wrapped up at $3,250 just over the estimated value.

Former Beats Music CEO and current Apple employee Ian Rogers is participating in a charity fundraiser through the online auction site Charitybuzz. With the estimated value pegged at $3,000, the fundraiser has a starting bid of $600, and runs for two weeks starting today. The highest bidder will have the opportunity to meet the former Beats Music CEO in either Los Angeles (where Beats is headquartered) or Cupertino (near Apple’s campus) for a private lunch meeting. Read more

Spotify updating iOS app with neat touch preview and new swipe gestures

Spotify has announced an update to its iOS app to add some very handy new features. You’ll be able to preview any song just by touching the track and holding your finger down. Tapping it then plays the full track.

The app is also getting two new swipe gestures designed to make it even easier to queue music and save tracks to My Music …  Read more

Apple moving Beats Electronics technical support wholly in-house, replacing outsourced support

Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre Unveil Beats By Dr. Dre 2011 Holiday Product Line-Up

Apple is in the process of winding down Beats Electronics’ outsourced phone support ties and moving technical support completely in-house via AppleCare, according to sources. Beats Electronics phone support is currently split between Apple and Sitel, a customer support outsourcing firm, and Apple is aiming to completely end that relationship as soon as March. Apple cut several Beats jobs in July following the acquisition. Sitel employees have confirmed that they will be moved to new technical support positions for other companies, and AppleCare employees similarly confirmed that Beats support will soon be handled completely internally. Apple acquired Beats Electronics and Beats Music in May 2014 for $3 billion, and sales transitioned to the Apple Online Store in August. Apple Store Genius Bars began servicing Beats products late last year.

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Touching the dial: How iTunes Radio could be tuned for a better user experience

itunesradio_hero

iTunes Radio, Apple’s first real foray into streaming music, made its public debut back in June 2013, where it was announced alongside iOS 7. Over a year since its release, the service hasn’t exactly taken over the world, quite literally. It’s still only available in the United States and Australia. If you compared iTunes Radio today with iTunes Radio as it existed the day it was first available to use, you’ll notice that not much has really changed.

Of course, just last May, Apple announced its acquisition of Beats Electronics, which brought along with it Beats Music, a robust and almost entirely different approach to streaming music. While Apple may seek to integrate Beats Music more tightly with iTunes in the future, at this time it hasn’t.

So in the meantime, what could Apple do to make iTunes Radio more appealing to customers? Some might say the music selection is limited, or that streaming doesn’t always work correctly. However, focusing on the service strictly from a feature standpoint, there are many small changes and additions Apple could implement that would have a huge impact on the usefulness and utility of iTunes Radio. Let’s take a look.

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Opinion: Could there be method in Apple’s apparent madness in removing freebies?

itunes-single-of-the-week

I was extremely surprised when Apple made the decision to drop its Single of the Week, after doing the same thing with its 12 Days of Christmas promo. As I wrote then, the free single seemed a win-win-win: consumers got free music, lesser-known artists got exposure, Apple got the goodwill that stems from giving away free stuff.

But thinking more about it, perhaps there is method in Apple’s madness after all. Let’s start with the obvious point: the company is about to launch an Apple-branded Beats Music service, and it would then make sense to say that this, not iTunes freebies, is the way to discover new music.

But it’s not just music: 12 Days of Christmas was content of all types, apps included, so I think there could be a bigger picture here. Bear with me while I make that case in a slightly roundabout fashion …

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Spotify now reports 15 million paid subscribers

Spotify 15 million premium users

Streaming music subscription service Spotify shared its latest user numbers today, announcing that it now has 15 million paid subscribers to its premium service and 60 million active users. Spotify’s paid user count of 15 million accounts is up from the 10 million paid subscribers it previously reported just over six months ago.

Since then, Apple has officially closed on its $3 billion deal to acquire Beats Electronics and Beats Music, which gave it access to its own on-demand music streaming subscription service. Before Apple’s Beats acquisition last year, the Spotify competitor was believed to have just over 110,000 paid subscribers of its own. Read more

Apple recruits ‘Head of Social Media’, will be stationed out of Beats’ West Los Angeles HQ

Tim Cook iPhone 6 tweet

Apple is looking to hire a new Head of Social Media and Content that will lead and expand on its current social media strategy. The job will be based out of Culver City, which could hint at Apple’s plans to align its overall social media strategy closer with its recently acquired Beats Electronics division which is located there. The West LA office is also in close proximity to its lead global Ad/Marketing agency Media Arts Lab. Read more

Billboard 200 chart will include streaming listens from Beats, Spotify, Google Play, & others in album sales

Eddy Cue, Jimmy Iovine, Apple, Beats Music, Code Conference

Billboard is about to add data from music streaming services to its weekly Billboard 200 charts for the first time as services like Spotify and Apple’s Beats Music become increasingly popular. The New York Times reports that Billboard and Nielsen SoundScan plan to start incorporating both streams and downloads from music streaming services, in addition to the music sales the chart already covered, in order to more accurately reflect popular albums based on what users are listening to. The first chart including streaming services will include data for next week and arrive online Dec. 4: Read more