Apple will kill free music with Beats revamp

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Apple has big ambitions for its new music streaming service.
Beats redesign is coming to WWDC 2015. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Apple will supposedly unveil a big redesign of Beats Music in June, but if you are hoping it will come with a free, ad-supported tier, you’re going to be out of luck.

Apple wants to help music labels kill free music streaming by inking deals that will give subscribers exclusive access to albums before they hit rival players like Spotify, Rdio and Pandora.

To promote the new service, which is expected to be announced at this summer’s Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple will reportedly introduce the rebranded Beats Music with a free trial period. After it ends you’ll have to pay up or you’ll miss out on new hits from top artists.

Eddy Cue and Beats founder Jimmy Iovine are leading Apple’s push with the labels reports Recode. The duo has been telling artists and label execs that the music business “needs to get behind a paywall.”

“Apple is negotiating with the music labels for licenses for a revamped version of Beats. Sources say Apple would like to make a splash by getting high-profile artists to distribute their music with Apple before it makes its way to other services.”

To make the paywall more affordable, Apple wants to offer its monthly subscription with a $7.99 monthly price tag – two bucks cheaper than Spotify and Rdio.

Music label executives are all for Apple’s push to get people off the free ad-supported models and onto paid subscriptions. Universal Music Group CEO Lucian Grainge said at a conference last month that they “want to accelerate paid subscription.” Grainge told attendees that “ad-funded on-demand is not going to sustain the entire ecosystem of the creators as well as the investors.”

Such exclusivity could be a big win for artists too. Taylor Swift and Beyonce had two of the biggest albums of 2014, but refused to let Spotify and Rdio have the rights to stream their new music, citing the pittance in pay they receive as the top reason for ditching the streamers.