Jimmy Iovine joined Apple when the company acquired Beats back in 2014, and worked closely on the launch of Apple Music and Beats 1. In 2018, Iovine took a step back from Apple after he received his final payout from Apple’s acquisition of Beats.
In a recent interview with The New York Times, Iovine elaborated on his time at Apple, the relationship between technology and the music industry, and more.
Iovine said that he realized during the days of Napster that record companies would not “exist without technology.” Specifically, Iovine believed that how the record industry was responding to Napster – almost exclusively with lawsuits – “was not cool.”
Around this time is when Iovine first met Steve Jobs and Eddy Cue, with the goal of incorporating their style of thinking into the record industry, which ultimately led to the creation of Beats.
I met Steve Jobs and Eddy Cue from Apple. And I said, “Oh, this is where the party is. We need to incorporate this thinking into Interscope.”
I find out a lot through the artists I work with. Dre is a perfectionist of audio, maybe one of the greatest audio producers that ever existed. And when I found out what Dre was concerned about, that the equipment his kids were listening to the music on — an entire generation was learning about audio through cheap, inefficient equipment. That’s how Beats started.
Steve Jobs used to sit with me at this Greek restaurant and draw out what I needed to do to make hardware. He’d say, “Here’s distribution, here’s manufacturing,” and he’d be drawing on this paper with a Sharpie. And I’d go, “Oh, [expletive].”
In 2014, he eventually found his way back to Apple following its acquisition of Beats. Iovine spent four years working on Apple Music and Beats 1, but in 2018 he felt it was time to move on as he ran out of “personal runway.”
When I went to Apple, it was a new creative problem for me. How do we make this the future of the music business? How do we make it not ordinary? But I ran out of personal runway. Somebody else will have to do that.
Despite his role in creating Apple Music, Iovine isn’t so sure about the future of the streaming music industry. The biggest problem? “It doesn’t scale,” Iovine said. “At Netflix, the more subscribers you have, the less your costs are. In streaming music, the costs follow you.”
Furthermore, Iovine said there’s a central problem because streaming music services are “utilities” because they’re all the same. Iovine gives credit to Spotify for its focus on podcasts, but whether or not that works out remains to be seen.
And the streaming music services are utilities — they’re all the same. Look at what’s working in video. Disney has nothing but original stuff. Netflix has tons of original stuff. But the music streaming services are all the same, and that’s a problem.
The full Jimmy Iovine interview can be read at The New York Times.
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