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Apple Executives Mingled at Pre-Grammy Party Amid Discussions on Future of Beats and iTunes
The party came as Iovine has reportedly been meeting with senior executives from many record labels in recent weeks, and while Billboard reports "a nondisclosure agreement preceded every sit-down," details on some of the discussions are beginning to trickle out. One of the main takeaways appears to be a targeted spring/summer launch window for the revamped Beats Music streaming service the company is said to be integrating with iOS and OS X.
An insider speaking to Billboard claims the Cupertino-based company isn't content just to be in the music business but "to be the music business; it's not to compete with Spotify." Billboard points out that, with new iOS updates in development possibly bringing Beats Music support and the booming popularity of streaming services, the company appears to already be lining up to deal with its digital music problems head-on.
The proof is in the 800 million credit cards it already has on file -- comparably, Spotify has 15 million subscriptions and 60 million monthly users, although the service is growing, headed to an initial public offering.Other news out of the talks points to a bit of housecleaning in dealing with iTunes itself, with Apple supposedly planning to rid the store of many covers, soundalikes, and re-recordings. Billboard also reports that the featured ticker seen on the iTunes storefront may lose its editorial-chosen feature and become more sales-based.
In fact, integration has begun. Apple TV features a Beats logo, an update to Apple's iOS will include streaming and creative is in the works for new ads starring artists recruited by Iovine. But that may be the extent of Beats' involvement as Kondrk takes the lead on music. Like the Apple-centric design of its offices, the look and feel of Beats is likely to mirror Apple's aesthetic, not the other way around.
Additionally, featured-artist sliders, previously chosen editorially, may now be determined by sales velocity, leaving some to wonder if iTunes is becoming less like a Tower Records and more of a Target -- limited selection and a focus on hit titles. "Until now, iTunes has been good to the indies," contends one vet. Conversely, an Apple source says such case-by-case house-cleaning to eliminate duplicative and deceptive versions is routine.Despite Apple's challenges in a market where third-party music services can operate fairly freely on Apple's platforms, insiders remain optimistic about Apple's plans, with Davis' son Doug pointing out the company's already hugely popular ecosystem of devices and operating systems helping to launch the new service with a bang. "Their streaming service will see a seamless integration that's cross-platform and convenient, as Spotify has become," Davis said. "As a fan of all-you-can-eat, the industry in general is excited to have more market players."