Beats CEO Tried To Sell A Music Subscription Service to Steve Jobs 10 Years Ago

Beats CEO Tried To Sell A Music Subscription Service to Steve Jobs 10 Years Ago

Word.

Rumors have been saying that Apple is gearing up to launch an iTunes music subscription service in 2013. The product has clearly been years in the making, and Steve Jobs was apparently being pitched the idea a decade ago.

Jimmy Iovine is the CEO of Beats, Dr. Dre’s bumpin headphone line. Iovine has a long history in the music industry, and he previously ran Interscope records. Back in the early days of iTunes, Iovine visited Apple to pitch his idea for a Spotify-like music subscription to Steve Jobs.

While speaking with AllThingsD, Iovine shared the story of visiting Cupertino with the then-Universal Music Group CEO Doug Morris:

In 2002, 2003, Doug asked me to go up to Apple and see Steve. So I met him and we hit it off right away. We were really close. We did some great marketing stuff together: 50 Cent, Bono, Jagger, stuff for the iPod – we did a lot of stuff together.

But I was always trying to push Steve into subscription. And he wasn’t keen on it right away. [Beats co-founder] Luke Wood and I spent about three years trying to talk him into it. He was there, not there … he didn’t want to pay the record companies enough. He felt that they would come down, eventually.

I don’t know what [Apple media head] Eddy Cue would say – I’m seeing him soon – but I think in the end Steve was feeling it, but the economics …he wanted to pay the labels [for subscriptions], but [the fees were] not going to be acceptable to them.

Cue is in charge of all the iTunes stuff now, and the music industry is quite different than it was 10 years ago. Word on the street is that negotiations between Apple and the labels have been quite… difficult. The most interesting part of Iovine’s interview is that he is meeting with Cue “soon.”

  • philbert81

    This guy looks like a 50 year old trying to be a cool raper.

  • Matthew Gonzales Landry

    This guy looks like a 50 year old trying to be a cool raper.

    Well, he’s been in the music industry for a very, very long time. He’s always dressed the same, pretty much.

  • Matthew Gonzales Landry

    I would love it if the meeting was about some better Beats integration with Apple products. Beats audio software is a bit beefier on the bass side, but I’d like to have the option to put my Mac and iOS devices into bass overdrive. I really want thin on my iOS devices because of the weak EQ settings.

  • jpadhiyar

    This place is really really crowded right now with some really cool leaders in the list. Spotify and Pandora are quite ahead. I just hope Apple doesn’t do something like Ping but I guess when it comes down to music, people are really ready for anything new that is different and unique. Coming from Apple, that would be obvious but then, large companies have this uncanny knack of…. screwing things up sometimes.

  • extra_medium

    This guy looks like a 50 year old trying to be a cool raper.

    I don’t know of many rapper who wear green tinted wire rim glasses or goofy little hats like that.

    But seriously why is this such a problem for apple? Even microsoft did it with Zune years ago, so did about 10 others. They are acting like a subscription service is uncharted territory.

  • gareth edwards

    Apple need to do something smart and simple. Something like ‘The Pass’ – a levelled subscription model that allows music, music + films, or music+films+shows (or any mix of them) through the iTunes store at a sensible price.

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath is a staff writer at Cult of Mac and co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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