Jimmy Iovine says free music streaming is screwing artists

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apple-music
Apple Music doesn't have a free tier.
Photo: Apple

Jimmy Iovine wants people to pay for music again and he’s got a plan that just might work: make free music streaming suck.

The Apple exec and music industry legend sat down for a new wide-ranging interview, during which Iovine lamanted that artists aren’t getting paid enough for their music anymore. And it’s mostly Spotify and YouTube’s fault.

Iovine, who leads the Apple Music team, told Music Business Worldwide, that if Apple Music had a free tier like Spotify does it would have 400 million people on it already. Apple Music currently has around 30 million subscribers. Its rival Spotify has over 50 million paying subscribers and over 100 million active users.

According to Iovine, the dynamics of the music industry need to be changed so that listeners who are actually paying artists money get advantages free streamers don’t have.

“People who pay for subscriptions should be advantaged. The labels owe it to their customers,” explained Iovine. “The most important thing for labels is to make the paid services compelling and entertaining. And don’t make free services as good as the paid services. Is that not obvious?!”

Paying Artists For Music

Part of the reason why Iovine chose to go to Apple was because the company believes artists should get paid. While Spotify is often seen as Apple’s biggest competition, Iovine repeatedly pointed to YouTube in the interview as the biggest danger to artists.

Asked where his passion for paying artists come from, Iovine referred to his days working as an audio engineer on albums for John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith.

“They gave me a shot. I didn’t deserve it. And I’ve put my money where my mouth is: Beats Music didn’t have a free tier. Apple Music doesn’t have a free tier,” said Iovine. “I’m not just talking it; I’m walking it. That’s why I aligned with Eddy and Tim and Steve. They thought the same way.”

Getting free music off of YouTube could be crucial for the industry to convert more listeners into paid subscribers. Iovine admitted he tried to fight Spotify in the early days of Apple Music. Now he’s just focused on making Apple Music the best cultural platform possible.

Iovine’s interview touched on a number of other subjects like recording in the 1970’s, working with Drake and Future, meeting Steve Jobs and a lot more. You can read it in its entirety over at MBW.

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  • I’d agree if I thought the artists see the money, but they don’t. The only people who will see that are are Jimmy Iovine, Tim Cook, and other people who are part of the system. Artists make money off touring and T-Shirts.

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