Billboard Profiles Oliver Schusser, the Head of Apple Music

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Oliver Schusser, who now heads up Apple Music, recently sat down with Billboard to give some insight into how ‌Apple Music‌ works and his plans for ‌Apple Music‌'s future.

Schusser, who has been with Apple for 15 years, was promoted to Head of Global Operations for ‌Apple Music‌ back in April 2018, reporting directly to ‌Apple Music‌ chief Eddy Cue.


At a time when there was internal strife over Jimmy Iovine's move to an advisory role and stress over slowing iPhone sales, Schusser was responsible for dissolving the "internal divide of the Iovine era" and bringing renewed energy to ‌Apple Music‌, according to sources that spoke to Billboard. From Rachel Newman, global senior director of editoral at ‌Apple Music‌ and one of Schusser's employees:

"He knows more about most people's teams than they do themselves, in a good way. He knows people's birthdays. He just has the capacity to deal with the human side of being a leader, as much as he does the strategic and commercial sides. That is what makes him phenomenal."

When he took over ‌Apple Music‌, Schusser appointed trusted confidantes to lead new ‌Apple Music‌ initiatives and he created new editorial, artist relations, and music publishing divisions to "take better advantage of Apple's long-standing artist relationships."

He also aimed to introduce updates to ‌Apple Music‌ more frequently, debuting top 100 charts and new personalized playlists over the course of the last year, and he established partnerships with American Airlines, Verizon, and Amazon to boost subscriber growth. Record labels are happy with the changes that Schusser has implemented, and have called Apple more open and engaging under his leadership.

One thing that's not changing is Apple's focus on curation. Apple is at the "crossroads between the liberal arts and technology," says Schusser, and it's important to have a human element when it comes to recommendations.

"That's just not the way we look at the world," continues Schusser. "We really do believe that we have a responsibility to our subscribers and our customers to have people recommend what a playlist should look like and who the future superstars are."

Schusser says that he is optimistic about the future, and that Apple is "feeling really good" about where the service is today, four years after it launched.

Other people have had a lot more experience, a lot more time to test things and to learn, and we've caught up really fast. We look at ourselves as an artist-first company, and we want to be the best partners for labels, publishers and songwriters. We're working with the product and engineering team on our vision and the future for the product. If you do all of these things, the rest will follow."

Billboard's full profile on Schusser can be read over on the Billboard website.

Top Rated Comments

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14 months ago

it's important to have a human element when it comes to recommendations.

"We really do believe that we have a responsibility to our subscribers and our customers to have people recommend what a playlist should look like and who the future superstars are."

Curation can be a good and bad thing, depending on who curators are. It looks like there are too many rappers and hip-hoppers in those future superstars.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
14 months ago

Curation can be a good and bad thing, depending on who curators are. It looks like there are too many rappers and hip-hoppers in those future superstars.

I’m assuming Shusser is at least in part responsible for bringing Deutsche Grammophon classical label on board last year to curate their own content and playlists, which has been an ongoing joy to explore and listen. Whilst, yes, the Browse section of Apple Music is overwhelmingly urban/hip hop and the like, there are some fantastic curators for other genres on the service.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
14 months ago
This is very helpful, because when I ask Siri "Who heads up Apple Music?" the reply is "I don't know what you mean by 'Who heads up Apple Music.'"

And when I ask "Who is the head of Apple Music?" the reply is "Tim Cook is the CEO of Apple."
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
14 months ago

Curation can be a good and bad thing, depending on who curators are. It looks like there are too many rappers and hip-hoppers in those future superstars.

This is an old and tired argument. Hip hop and rap are very popular genres. Spend a little time interacting with Apple Music and it will never show you Kanye or Drake again.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
14 months ago
Really love the part about him knowing birthdays and other personal things - it’s great working for someone how cares
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
14 months ago

This is very helpful, because when I ask Siri "Who heads up Apple Music?" the reply is "I don't know what you mean by 'Who heads up Apple Music.'"

And when I ask "Who is the head of Apple Music?" the reply is "Tim Cook is the CEO of Apple."

- Siri, what's the weather going to be like today?
- Tim Cook.
- Siri, what are you tal...
- Tim Cook.
- Siri, where's...
- Tim Cook.
- Siri, when...
- Tim Cook.
- Siri!
- Tim Cook.
- Tim Cook?
- Tim Cook.

:D

Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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