Jimmy Iovine: Free music streaming is hurting the industry

Jimmy Iovine: Free music streaming is hurting the industry


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Jimmy Iovine shares a similar philosophy to Steve Jobs about music.
Photo: Vanity Fair

Jimmy Iovine used his appearance at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit in San Francisco to take swipes at Spotify and, in particular, to underline his hatred of free music streaming.

“Free is a real issue,” he said. “This whole thing about freemium, maybe at one time we needed it. But now it’s a shell game … These companies [offering a free music tier] are building an audience on the back of the artist.”

This isn’t the first time Apple has been outspoken about its dislike of free music. This summer, the company was examined by the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission after allegedly pressuring music label partners to ditch support for Spotify’s free tier.

Vanity Fair panel moderator Andrew Ross Sorkin of The New York Times asked Iovine how Apple’s moral crusade to defend artists fits with the company’s brief spat with Taylor Swift concerning the proposed lack of artist royalties during Apple Music’s three-month free trial.

On-stage, Irvine argued that Apple, “moved like lightning and they did the right thing” after reading Taylor Swift’s open letter.

Ultimately, I think Apple is doing the right think by not having a free tier with its service. Charging $9.99 per month does mean that the service is unlikely to grow as quickly as it would otherwise, but this is just another iteration of the war Apple fought with iTunes against Kazaa and Napster in the early 2000s. In particular I’m reminded of this exchange with Steve Jobs during an Esquire interview in 2003.

Esquire: There’s a whole generation that thinks music is free.

Jobs: I don’t think that’s true. I talk to a lot of these kids. They don’t think it’s free. They know they’re stealing music.

Esquire: But is karma enough of a threat?

Jobs: No. Let me try explaining it another way. These kids are using the best product. Until yesterday, Kazaa was the best product. Why is that? Because the minute you get your music over the Internet and experience that instant gratification, there’s no going back. … I don’t blame these fifteen-year-old kids. I blame us — for not coming up with a better product that was legal. And so they’ve been using the best product out there, and what we have to do to compete is make a better product. And I believe people will gravitate to a better product.

Now that Apple Music’s three-month free trial is over, Apple just needs to concentrate on proving it’s the better service.

Source: The Verge