A report from TechCrunch today claims Apple plans to shut down its recently acquired Beats Music service. The report cites sources, “including several prominent employees at Apple and Beats.”
Many engineers from Beats Music have already been moved off the product and onto other projects at Apple, including iTunes. It’s not clear when exactly Jimmy Iovine and Dr Dre’s music service will be shut down or what Apple will do with streaming, but every source with knowledge of the situation that we talked to agreed Apple plans to sunset the Beats Music brand.
TechCrunch notes the fact that the new iPhones did not come pre-installed with Beats Music, while several other Apple apps came loaded on the 6 and 6 Plus, should have been a red flag. (The only mention Beats Music got at the September iPhone event was a mention that the free U2 album that was announced would also be available via Beats.)
Former Beats executive Ian Rogers was previously put in charge of iTunes Radio, so it’s quite likely that Apple will incorporate some of the Beats Music features into their iTunes Radio music streaming service.
Shutting down Beats Music also jibes with previous reports that the Beats acquisition was always about getting Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre’s talent on board, and about grabbing up the headphone business.
Apple has just recently launched a Beats Music channel on Apple TV, along with Beats integration in Shazam, although those could have been in the pipeline long before the consideration was made to shutdown the Beats Music streaming service.
At last report, 250,000 had signed up for a paid Beats Music subscription. That number is minuscule when compared to the 10 million paid subscribers and 40 million total listeners on Spotify, or 76.4 million active listeners on Pandora.
Apple is currently facing falling digital music sales, which fell 13.3% in 2013, while streaming grew 32%.
UPDATE: Apple representativeTom Neumayr tells Re/code that the streaming service is not shutting down. However, other sources say the service could be rebranded at sometime in the future.