Company pushing forward despite reports of record company reticence, federal investigations
Speculation and unconfirmed reports have run rampant over Apple's progress in its effort to revamp its iTunes music services, with recent reports suggesting the company may have difficulty hitting its planned June target for formally introducing both a revised Music app for iOS in the forthcoming iOS 8.4, and a significantly revamped iTunes Radio and Beats Music streaming service designed to compete with Spotify. Various reports, however, claim obstacles -- ranging from music label reluctance to federal investigations.
Apple poaching more BBC Radio 1 producers for upgrade to Beats Music, iTunes Radio
Following the hiring of influential former BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe in February as part of both iTunes Radio and a speculated revamp of the Beats Music service, a trade magazine for the music industry has reported that as many as four other top producers for Radio 1 are leaving to join Lowe to work on the revamped subscription service at Apple, which could be announced as early as June's Worldwide Developer Conference.
Beats integration, iTunes overhaul likely to be on agenda for WWDC in June
A new article in The New York Times describes in some detail the alleged transition plans Apple is undertaking to transform both iTunes and Beats Music, it's acquired subscription streaming service. Among other details, the report assigns roles to iTunes Radio chief Zane Lowe, who until recently was a top BBC Radio 1 DJ, and describes musician Trent Reznor as a "point man" on an iOS Music app overhaul.
Downloads still king of market, but falling alongside overall music revenue
A new report from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) finds that revenue from music streaming services such as Beats Music, Pandora, and Spotify have now in total beaten out revenue from CD sales in the US, capitalizing on the latter's continued fall from grace (largely thanks to excessively high CD pricing). Both formats are still well behind download sales as the top revenue stream, but even that format is gently declining.
AppleCare now handling support for Beats Music, Apple Pay for Business
Apple will now handle support for Beats Music customers, along with businesses offering Apple Pay, through its AppleCare division, according to reports. Previously, Beats Music support was handled by an outsourced firm, but has now been moved in-house after the company was acquired by Apple last year. The move to offer support to businesses implementing Apple Pay will encourage more companies to do so. There is also a specific Merchants support hotline for Apple Pay for those already using the system.
Timing for overhaul set for around WWDC; Android version might continue?
Apple is now aiming for a revamp of its Beats Music streaming service, which will see the offering tied in more closely to both iTunes and other Apple products and services, to happen in June -- right around the time of the expected Worldwide Developers Conference, which is likely to happen on June 8–12, according to sources familiar with current plans. In addition to retaining the personalization and hand-curated recommendation features, Apple may be planning to lower the monthly cost.
Companies could potentially pull older music to avoid paying
A new lawsuit has targeted Google, Rdio, Sony, and Apple (including Beats Music) over the music royalties associated with pre-1972 recordings, new reports say. Zenbu Magazines, which owns copyrights on many pre-1972 songs, says that the companies have been making money streaming recordings without paying their copyright holders. Within US copyright law, compositions have been protected since 1831, but sound recordings were only added in 1972, meaning that while owners of pre-1972 compositions have been paid for public performances, people holding equally-aged recording rights typically haven't.
Apple music honcho raising money to fight pediatric cancer
Ian Rogers, who was previously the CEO of Beats Music and is still running the service now that it's at Apple, is auctioning a private lunch date in either Los Angeles or Cupertino as part of a charity fundraiser for The Pablove Foundation, a pediatric cancer research nonprofit. The auction, which is being run through Charitybuzz.com, estimates the value of the lunch at $3,000 but is of course hoping to raise much more.
Takeover reportedly linked to Beats Music relaunch
Apple has bought out a media analytics firm from the UK called Semetric, according to the The Guardian. The acquisition is said to have been discovered through Companies House filings, which show for instance that earlier this month, Semetric changed its address to that of a London lawfirm, Baker & McKenzie; the space is also registered to Apple Europe Limited. An Apple attorney, Gene Levoff, was assigned to a director position at Semetric in October of last year.
Looks to copy success of Beyoncé album launch on iTunes
Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine -- whose company is now owned by Apple -- is in negotiations with a number of artists about securing more exclusives for Beats Music, sources claim. The idea is reportedly to copy the success Beyoncé and Apple had with an iTunes exclusive, Beyoncé by Beyoncé, in December of last year. Iovine is known for his connections in the music industry, which include acts like Will.i.am, Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, and Gwen Stefani; Minaj sometimes advertises Beats products via placements in her videos. A potential obstacle, though, is opposition from record labels, which typically don't like artists signing their own side deals.
Argued Beats could 'plug' Apple's 'hole in music'
Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine actively chased after this year's $3 billion acquisition by Apple, a new GQ interview reveals. Iovine explains that Apple was the only company he wanted to work for, and that his argument to Apple executives was that Beats would fill a critical gap. "I know you have a hole in music right now; let me plug it," he said. The pursuit is said to have taken about two years.
Billboard introducing streaming plays, digital sales into album chart
The way the popularity of content is measured may be seeing some changes in the coming weeks, both for audio and video. Billboard will start to include streaming and digital track sales as part of the Billboard 200 albums chart, while Nielsen is said to be preparing to track content watched through streaming services starting from next month.
Service likely to be rebranded under iTunes name
Apple is planning to bundle Beats Music as a native iOS app early next year, sources tell the Financial Times. The shift is expected to happen in the form of a firmware update, that could debut as soon as March. The Times has little other information, but argues that it's likely Apple will rebrand the service under the iTunes moniker, as other reports have suggested.
In-flight Beats service includes The Sentence personalization
Passengers of Southwest Airlines will soon be offered access to Beats Music during their flight, as an alternative to in-flight radio and other entertainment options. The airline will be providing music via the streaming service on its Wi-Fi-enabled aircraft starting from today, with passengers able to access a personalized playlist to listen to throughout their flight at no extra charge.
Said to be related to role on Beats Music
Trent Reznor -- the Nine Inch Nails frontman and one-time chief creative officer at Beats -- says he is "fully in it right now" on an unannounced music project for Apple and Beats. While he is unwilling to go into much detail, in a new interview, he says his work is "related" to his role with Beats Music. "Beats was bought by Apple, and they expressed direct interest in me designing some products with them," the musician notes. "I can't go into details, but I feel like I'm in a unique position where I could be of benefit to them. That does mean some compromises in terms of how much brain power goes toward music and creating. This is very creative work that's not directly making music, but it's around music."
Company claims discount could attract more subscribers
In preparation for relaunching Beats Music next year, Apple is currently pushing record labels to allow lowering monthly subscription fees from $10 to $5, sources say. The company's marketing pitch, allegedly, is that even Apple's best iTunes customers typically spend an average of $60 per year, or $5 per month. As such, anyone switching from downloads to streaming would generate an equal amount of revenue -- and more importantly, the potential subscriber pool would increase thanks to more affordable fees.
Move seen as part of rumored rebranding shift coming next year
One of the US' largest carriers, AT&T, has abruptly ended a promotion it began with Beats Music prior to the latter being acquired by Apple. The carrier was previously offering the ability to include a Beats Music subscription on a customer's wireless bill if desired, and told AppleInsider that it will continue to offer the plan to existing customers and those currently on the free trial. There is, however, no longer any access to a free trial through AT&T's website.
Plans to revamp Beats Music next year at lower monthly price
Apple is asking the major music labels to adjust their agreements with the iPhone maker to allow to go ahead with a planned revision of the subscription-based Beats Music service that may well portend a lowering of the monthly cost. The company apparently plans to introduce changes to the service next year, and wants to obtain new rights and features at a lower price as part of what it has in mind. Streaming services have recently gained in popularity at around the $10 per month mark, which is what Beats Music charges.
Timing could coincide with Grammy Awards
Apple could announce a new, rebranded version of Beats Music in February, according to "industry scuttlebutt" heard by Re/code's John Paczkowski. No other information has leaked, but it's speculated that the switch may happen in parallel with the Grammy Awards, which are being held February 8. The event could theoretically serve as a marketing springboard for a new service.
Apple plans for platform's tech still unknown
[Updated with Apple denial] Despite recent efforts to promote the streaming service, Apple is planning to discontinue Beats Music, sources within Apple and Beats say. "Many" Beats Music engineers have reportedly been diverted to other projects, such as iTunes. The sources have no insight on what Apple plans to do with the service's technology.
Will eventually support iCloud Photo Library
Accompanying iOS 8 today is updated firmware for the Apple TV. Immediately visible are new cosmetic touches, namely thinner fonts and "flatter" app icons. It also includes some feature additions, such as a Beats Music channel, making it possible to listen to the subscription service Apple acquired earlier this year.
Participants must sign up for Beats account
Apple-owned Beats Music has launched a US contest to promote itself and next month's iTunes Festival in London. The #GoWithMe promotion offers 25 winners a chance to take a friend to see one of five concerts. Options include Kiesza, Calvin Harris, Pharrell Williams/Jungle, Maroon 5/Matthew Koma, or Ed Sheeran/Foy Vance.
Music service works its way into Apple ecosystem
Beats Music is now being promoted as one of the "Best New Apps" in the App Store, even though the title has actually been available since January and was last updated July 28th. It is also included in the Apps Made by Apple section linked at the bottom of the App Store. Earlier this week, Apple began highlighting Beats Music in the list of apps recommended to new iOS users.
Mini-movie serves as a springboard to wider exposure, celebrates landmark film
Beats Music has issued a 22-minute documentary on the making of the Spike Lee film Do The Right Thing on the occasion of its 25th anniversary. The film follows filmmaker Lee, actor Danny Aiello and designer Wynn Thomas as they tour locations in the small area of Brooklyn's Bed-Stuy neighborhood where much the film is shot. The movie was originally released in 1989, and remains a powerful statement on race and co-existence, particularly in light of recent national and international tensions.
Beats Music "Listen Now" feature rolling out for Shazam on iOS
The iOS version of Shazam has begun to roll out a new "Listen Now" feature from Beats Music. The music streaming service integration allows users to tag a song with Shazam, and then immediately play it in Beats Music. A subscription is required to Beats Music to utilize this new feature, however a 14-day free trial of the service is available.
Title appears as official Apple app
People setting up an iOS 7 device for the first time are now seeing Beats Music among the list of recommended Apple apps, according to anecdotes. The App Store splash page is otherwise full of titles like iBooks, Podcasts, Find My iPhone, and the iWork suite. Notably Beats Music is the only one to require payments, since it's based on monthly subscription plans.
Executive will straddle both music services
Beats Music head Ian Rogers will also take charge of iTunes Radio as a part of Apple's acquisition of Beats, sources tell the Wall Street Journal. The people add that having Rogers in charge of both units is intended to generate cohesion in Apple's streaming music options. How exactly that might manifest is unclear, but the Journal speculates that Apple may implement new subscription options.
Developers, creative workers being kept
Although the takeover has yet to be fully approved legally, some workers and technology resources are already being shifted from Beats to Apple, sources say. Apple executives have allegedly visited Beats' California headquarters this week and the last, offering some workers new positions at Apple while telling others that their jobs will be cut. Many Beats employees in creative or development roles are being offered work at Apple; many of these are allegedly headed to Apple's Cupertino's headquarters, but the company is keeping both the Santa Monica offices and some engineers associated with Beats Music.
Now offers Tune Your Taste, verified accounts, song history, more
As the process of Beats Music's acquisition by Apple continues, the iOS app for the subscription-based Beats Music service has received an update to both make playback better and more reliable as well as to improve the overall user experience. The new version 2.2.0 gives users the ability to customize the services's "Just For You" recommendations by changing artists and genres with a new feature called Tune Your Taste. In addition to some other changes, Beats reports that it has "fixed a ton of bugs."
Clears major legal obstacle
The European Commission has authorized Apple's $3 billion takeover of Beats, according to an official statement. The organization was tasked with scrutinizing any possible antitrust concerns in the deal. In its judgment, the Commission notes that while both Apple and Beats sell headphones in Europe, even their combined marketshare is low, and the companies aren't in close competition. Their headphones are said to "differ markedly in functionality and design."
Claims best products in 25 years due in 2014
Speaking yesterday at the Code Conference, Apple's senior VP of Internet software and services, Eddy Cue -- joined by Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine -- offered an explanation of the company's $3 billion buyout of Beats, and also discussed Apple's upcoming product pipeline. He noted that a deal for Beats and/or the people behind it has been in development for a decade, and that together the two companies should be able to speed up products that are being kept secret.
Trial period extended to 14 days, bug fixes featured in latest version
On the heels of Apple CEO Tim Cook describing the Beats Music service as an example of "subscription done right," the app for iOS has been updated to extend the trial period to 14 days, and version 2.1.0 now offers a yearly subscription at a discount -- possibly reinforcing Cook's pledge that the service will continue to operate as before, at least for the foreseeable future.
David Hyman fired to avoid compensation payments, lawsuit alleges
The founder of MOG, the music subscription service that was to become Beats Music, has sued Beats Electronics over a loss of earnings. David Hyman claims he was fired from the company before he was able to earn shares in the company, with the situation exacerbated by the anticipated acquisition of Beats by Apple for an estimated $3.2 billion.
Spotify competitor offers curated playlists, Sentence-based music discovery
The Dr Dre-owned Spotify competitor Beats Music has gone live in the United States, with the app appearing in the App Store. The long-awaited streaming music offering launch also signals the future closure of the MOG service, shuttering on April 15th, though it appears that MOG subscribers will not get directly migrated over to Beats Music.
Curated Beats Music to launch later this month
The Beats Music streaming service will finally launch later this month, January 21, with apps available for Android, iOS, Windows, and the web. The Verge reported on Sunday that the service, backed by music industry giant Jimmy Iovine, will be available for a $10 monthly subscription fee. At launch, Beats will also unveil a collaboration with AT&T, which will see that carrier's customers able to get family subscriptions to Beats for just $15 per month.
Beats Music streaming service to launch next month
Beats Music, the streaming music site spun out from the maker of the popular premium headphones, will make its debut in January of next year, it was revealed on Wednesday. The site for the service has gone live, and users can now register a user name for when it goes live next year. The particulars of Beats' new music offering are as yet unknown, but the company will likely reveal them in the weeks leading up to its unveiling.