Apple’s Jimmy Iovine sat down recently with the Evening Standard, and discussed all things Apple Music, including the company’s sudden reversal on not paying artist royalties during its trial period after facing Taylor Swift’s public wrath.
Songstress Swift earlier this week discussed her “open letter” to Apple – where she told the public she would be pulling her latest album from the Apple Music streaming service due to the company’s plans not to pay royalties during its three-month free trial period. The 4AM Father’s Day missive caused Apple to reverse engines on that plan.
“Eddy [Cue, Apple senior VP] woke up on Sunday morning,” says Iovine. “He called me and said, ‘This is a drag’. I was like, ‘Yeah, maybe there’s some stuff she doesn’t understand’. He said, ‘Why don’t you give Scott [Borchetta, Swift’s label boss] a call? I called Scott, I called Eddy back, Eddy and Tim [Cook, Apple CEO] called me back and we said, ‘Hey, you know what, we want this system to be right and we want artists to be comfortable, let’s do it’.”
That’s all it took. Apple reversed course, and announced that it would indeed pay artists for the streaming of their music during the Apple Music trial period. It was all over quick enough for Iovine to walk a bit easier in the pair of espadrilles he received for Father’s Day.
Iovine, who has a 40 year career in the music business, says he is enjoying life, not the least of which is due to his share of the $3 billion Apple paid to buy Beats Electronics last year. “I have a great life,” he says with a smile, even though the heat is on from Apple Music competitors such as Spotify, Google, Rdio, Jay Z’s Tidal, and a recently announced streaming bundle for Amazon Prime customers.
“There’s a lot of [them],” he says, disdainfully. “Music deserves elegance and the distribution right now is not great. It’s all over the place and there are a bunch of utilities. That’s the best you can find. It’s basically a really narrow, small, inelegant way to have music delivered. So it’s sterile, programmed by algorithms and numbing.”
Iovine also discussed luring popular DJ Zane Lowe from the BBC to head up Beats 1, the company’s worldwide streaming radio station. “What he’s done in 19 weeks shouldn’t have been possible,” he says. When asked if it was easy to convince Lowe to leave London, Iovine replies, “It wasn’t easy but that was my job and I come from a world of knowing when someone is special.”
Apple Music today announced that it has 10 million subscribers, although there is plenty of work to be done if the service is going to retain a large share of those users when the free three-month trial period ends in the fall.
“I don’t look at Spotify or Rdio or any of these guys as a direct competitor, I look at other forms of entertainment as the competitor. Not everybody can do this but I think the team I’ve put together can. I always say, I love chocolate but I’m not Willy Wonka.”
For more of the interview With Jimmy Iovine, visit the Evening Standard website.