Apple will kill free music with Beats revamp


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.

  • pandacookie

    Beats Music already doesn’t offer a free tier. Also, a free trial period does nothing for me. I already used up a free trial period with them. Not as much of a selection as Spotify when I tried it. They’ll need to fix that if they expect to tango and win against the big boys.

    • FootSoldier

      True, but this may put Spotify in a pretty bad position. Just imagine if you can only get Taylor Swift on this service.

      • pandacookie

        Good points. But I think it might take more than Taylor Swift to beat Spotify. A good chunk of Ms. Swift’s fans are teenage girls, who may need a parent’s credit card to join Beats.

  • Steven

    It’s about time. I am so fed up with this “I get free music with this so-&-so app!” Music is not free! Period. Nor should it be, if you want your favorite artists to continue making the music you enjoy. Right now I pay Spotify less than $10 a month, and I have access to more music that I could possibly imagine. It would still be a bargain at twice the price. Subscription music is the best thing to happen, for the music consumer, in decades, and I hope Apple or someone else can find the right balance between the artists and the consumers.

    • Serious

      Speak for yourself fed up boy.

    • CelestialTerrestrial

      Check out Tidal, it sounds better than Spotify, it’s $20 a month, but it’s Lossless.

  • Steven Burgas

    Typical Cult of Mac bullshit.

    • GG

      Typical troll bullshit.
      Get a life loser.

      • Steven Burgas

        If you can’t take the opinions of others without whining ‘troll’ like a little cunt, feel free to go fuck yourself.

    • PMB01

      Bad troll.

      • Steven Burgas

        See my advice to the other moron above.

      • PMB01

        Doubling down on the douchery I see.

  • Raymond Frake

    Thankfully, I don’t listen to any of the “top artists” so this doesn’t mean diddly to me. The depth of their catalog is what will make the difference.

    • FootSoldier

      Yeah, but this may entice indie artists as well.

  • Scott Landis

    The section on Beats Music will have to surpass Spotify or offer a family plan that allows my wife and I to use the system at the same time without using two different accounts.

  • Doc_Sportello

    I’d be happy with being able to use iTunes Match. I have 60,000 songs, and iTM is limited to 25,000. I would be happy to pay proportionately extra for my extra songs — about $60 a year — to be able to access all my music pretty much anywhere.

    One additional plus — iTunes Match allows me to download music to play when wifi isn’t available.

    • pandacookie

      I love iTunes Match.

    • PMB01

      iTunes Match is very awesome. $25 I don’t regret spending!

  • oh no i cant imagine world without free thing

  • Bill_Henderson

    What’s the bit-rate quality?

  • Grunt_at_the_Point

    Spotify rocks…I don’t mind paying the $9.99 per month.

  • GL

    Got all my music on iTunes, backup up on their original CDs.
    No Match BS, no free streaming with ads for tampons, no Miley, no (c)rap, no Parental Advisory stickers, no worries.
    Sadly the days of pure talent are gone, replaced with miming and Auto-Tune.

    • PMB01

      You could’ve said that without sounding like a douche. Try again.

  • Oilsandguy

    $7.99 a month, apple takes a 30% cut…. Screw labels and artists.

    Yes, there are terrific youtube video downloaders & accompanying software to make pretty mp3 collections.

    Personally, I do support artists and buy the music. I use an android phones these days, but through past cd conversion & itunes library, I still use itunes. I then convert itunes to mp3 & put my collection on a 256GB USB jump drive to play in my vehicle.

    • PMB01

      Who said Apple is taking a 30% cut? Apple is allowed to do different things.

  • Jeo Ten

    There is so much music with ad supported srvices that I just don’t care, and I don’t listen to 99.999% of it anyway. Go for a subscription model if you must, but it won’t affect my life. At a point, there are just too many artists all doing the same thing. Thats fine, but it’s getting more and more challening to find anything; screens are only so big and there are only so many minutes in a day to sit there and listen.

  • CelestialTerrestrial

    Are they going to kill Apple Radio? I use iTunes Match which comes with ad free iTunes radio and it’s a lot cheaper than Beats music. It may not have as much content, but it’s enough. I actually prefer the sound quality of Tidal, it’s lossless. Yeah, it’s $20 a month, but it’s freaking lossless. I hate to say it since Jay Z just bought the company. But I’m just saying.

  • kilokool500

    LiveMixtapes and Spinrilla and other websites etc…. I’m not paying for no music

  • kilokool500

    I will NEVER buy Apple products