Spotify CEO: I’ve always assumed Apple would offer a streaming service

If Apple does indeed reach a deal to acquire Beats Electronics and announce it this week as expected, the clock is once again counting down to offer up your take on the whole scenario before it’s actually official. Steve Jobs’ biographer Walter Isaacson got that opportunity earlier this week thanks in part to Dan Lyons of Fake Steve Jobs fame; Isaacson told Lyons he believes the expected $3.2 billion acquisition by Apple is all about creating a world class video service led by Beats’ co-founder Jimmy Iovine.

But when you think about Beats and what the company has to offer for Apple, the subscription music service launched by the company in January earlier this year comes to mind. Spotify, of course, dominates in this space as seen by the company’s announcement today that they now have 10 million paid subscribers and 40 million active users. Read more

iTunes Radio streaming Coldplay’s upcoming ‘Ghost Stories’ album for free on First Play

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iTunes Radio has quickly become the best source for unreleased albums by huge artists, and today the service added yet another high-profile artist. Ahead of its highly anticipated release on May 19th, you can now stream Coldplay’s new album Ghost Stories in its entirety on iTunes via its First Play feature.

In the past, iTunes Radio has streamed albums by The Black Keys, Eminem, Pharrell, and Rick Ross, attempting to compete with services like Spotify and Rdio. Neither of those, however, offer any sort of early streaming capabilities like iTunes Radio.

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Opinion: What is Apple’s thinking in spending $3.2B on buying Beats?

beats

Apple’s apparent purchase of Beats took everyone by surprise. I must confess that my immediate reaction was to be slightly appalled. As someone whose audio tastes run more to B&O and B+W, I’ve always viewed Beats headphones as over-bassed, over-priced fashion items. But then my tastes in music admittedly differ somewhat from those of the typical Beats customer.

Even so, it’s still a little baffling at first glance. Tim Cook himself said a year ago that Apple asks two questions when considering an acquisition:

Would it help us make a great product, and would the culture fit at Apple?

My immediate answer to both would be “no,” so why would Apple spend $3.2B on a headphone manufacturer with a small sideline streaming music service … ?  Read more

Report: Apple considering iTunes Store for Android & on-demand streaming service

iTunes Radio

According to a new report from Billboard, Apple is considering launching an iTunes Store app on the Android platform to combat declining music sales on the digital platform. The report also says that Apple execs are in talks with high level label executives to discuss debuting an on-demand streaming service.

Apple has opened exploratory talks with senior label executives about the possibility of launching an on-demand streaming service that would rival Spotify and Beats Music, according to three people familiar with the talks. Apple is also thinking about adding an iTunes App for Android phones, the Google rival that has been growing faster than the iPhone, these sources said.

The move to an on-demand streaming service could transform iTunes Radio from the Pandora-like radio model to the more robust on-demand model used by Spotify, Rdio, Beats Music, and others. Read more

iTunes Radio beats Spotify to take 3rd place in U.S. music streaming, eyes up #2 spot

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iTunes Radio, launched alongside iOS 7 six months ago, has now overtaken Spotify to become the third most popular music streaming service in America – and looks set to take second place within the next quarter or two.

Reporting on listening data compiled by Edison ResearchElectronista estimates that iTunes Radio’s 8 percent market share gives it around 20M listeners, and says that it is the fastest-growing of the top three services …  Read more

Opinion: Five years from now, will we have given up all control of our technology?

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I know, it seems an odd question. But a few different things over the last couple of days got me thinking …

Years ago, before either Google or Apple ecosystems were really deserving of the term, I managed all my device synchronisation manually: I decided what content got synced on what devices. My music too: iTunes was allowed to play it, but not to manage it – I took care of the folder structures and meta-data myself. And the miscellaneous notes I kept were in a folder full of text files, the format deliberately chosen to be compatible with anything, not sitting inside Apple’s Notes app.

My view was that it should be me, not some piece of software or online service, that made the decisions about how things got done. Fast-forward to today, however, and things are quite different around here …  Read more

Apps, rather than streaming music, may be responsible for ‘peak iTunes’ – analyst

We noted at the end of last year that iTunes music downloads appeared to be on the decline for the first time, a shift that was confirmed this month. The operating assumption has so far been that music streaming services are taking over, and that a growing number of consumers are now content to simply have on-demand access to music, rather than to own it.

Asymco’s Horace Dediu, an analyst who often has interesting things to say, has suggested an alternative explanation: that we’re actually listening to less music …  Read more

Have music downloads hit their peak, with streaming taking over?

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What do 1980, 1989 and 2003 have in common? They were the peak sales years for LPs, cassettes and CDs respectively. After that, a very slight resurgence in vinyl aside, it was all downhill.

Billboard magazine has an interesting piece in which they suggest that perhaps 2012 might join that list – as the year that saw peak sales for music downloads, with streaming services like Spotify, Rdio and now, of course, iTunes Radio the heir apparent …

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Spotify goes free with new streaming tier on tablets, smartphones…with a caveat

From 9to5Google:

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Spotify fans the world over take note, the company is moving into the ad-supported model with a new app for both iOS, Android tablets and smartphones. The company is introducing a whole new tier of service on mobile, providing users an opportunity to listen and search for songs on the go for free with a small catch.

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Google Play Music finally hits iOS with a free month of All Access and programmable radio in 21 countries

After much anticipation, Google finally released its native Google Play Music app for iOS today. The All Access and Radio service was originally announced at Google IO in May with the promise that it would be ported to iOS devices a few weeks later. Then it was rumored last month. Well, today it is really here and Google was nice enough to give us a great look at the service yesterday (video above).

Google’s music ecosystem differs greatly from Apple’s and more closely resembles Spotify or Amazon with a focus on the Cloud. On Macs and PCs you can use it through a browser with an interface that is remarkably robust for a webpage, but obviously not quite as responsive as iTunes, especially with local music.

Play millions of songs, instantly, on any device, including all the music you’ve ever bought…from anywhere.

Google’s Music is in the Cloud (mostly) so you can seamlessly move from device to device, though there is a 5 app limit (but no limit on devices with web browser access). You can upload 20,000 songs for free, create playlists and share with friends, listen to your music anywhere there is a web browser or iOS/Android device. Kind of a no-brainer… Read more

Apple said to be closing music deals in order to launch ‘iRadio’ at upcoming WWDC

Update: Bloomberg adds more to WSJ’s report from earlier claiming that Apple’s new radio service will be tightly integrated with its iAd business. The report says Eddy Cue is currently making changes to the iAd business to support the new radio service scheduled to launch later this year alongside iOS 7:

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, has been negotiating with advertising companies including Omnicom Group Inc (OMC).’s OMD to secure brands that will run campaigns on the radio service, one person said..The company has taken steps to be more flexible with advertisers to get more business. Apple has required marketers to pay a fee for each 1,000 times an advertisement is placed in an app, plus an additional $2 for every time a customer clicks that ad. In some cases, Apple has eliminated one of those charges, one person familiar with the company said.

Apple also has cut prices so that media agencies can spend $1 million and use the purchased space for different advertising clients. And Apple started taking ad business from companies that sell alcohol, something Jobs resisted after creating iAd, said one person.

We’ve heard no shortage of rumors on the rumored iRadio streaming service from Apple that has taken on some new urgency after Google released a similar service at Google I/O last month (and plans to launch it on iOS soon). The latest comes from the NYTimes, which says Apple is rushing to close deals as days wind down to WWDC’s kickoff on June 10th.

After months of stalled negotiations over its planned Internet radio service, Apple is pushing to complete licensing deals with music companies so it can reveal the service as early as next week, according to people briefed on the talks.

It would appear that Apple wants to announce the service at WWDC, but the company needs to overcome issues with closing some of the deals. CNET reported earlier today that Apple had closed the deal with Warner, one of the bigger labels.

Apple has signed a deal with the Universal Music Group for its recorded music rights, but not for music publishing — the part of the business that deals with songwriting. Over the weekend, Apple also signed a deal with the Warner Music Group for both rights. It is still in talks with Sony Music Entertainment and Sony’s separate publishing arm, Sony/ATV, whose songwriters include Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga.

In a strange irony, the music service Apple offers is, again, said to be free and supported by ads (like Pandora/Spotify/Slacker/etc). This is in contrast to Google’s service, which is sold via a paid subscription.

I would have guessed the opposite, but this may be why Google was able to close the deals with the labels and Apple is still at the table.

WSJ adds that Apple will pay Warner 10% of ad revenue, about twice as much as Pandora, and that the service will be integrated with iAd.

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