He's got the Beats: Jimmy Iovine thinks he's cracked the download code
Iovine's Daisy in the stream could mean bouquets all round. BRIAN BOYDon music
When Jimmy Iovine talks, it’s best to listen. Arguably one of the most important and influential people in the music world, he’s the man who brought us Eminem and Lady Gaga, among others. He owns Beats headphones, he’s one of the top figures at the world’s biggest record label (Universal), and he’s one of the few real people Bruce Springsteen has written a lyric about.
Iovine is talking the talk for Daisy, his new subscription music service that is due to launch this summer and has the potential to be a game-changer. If the new service gains critical mass (and most everything Iovine has turned his hand to has), the music world will be changed. For the better.
As someone who has successfully done both software and hardware, Iovine is best placed for a big rush and push on streaming. Yes, there are plenty such services out there, but from what Iovine is saying they’re not getting the multi-million numbers they need for it to make financial sense because they’ve overlooked one critical component: curation.
For Iovine, the problem is simply stated: “Right now, somebody’s giving you 12 million songs and you give them your credit card and they tell you ‘good luck’. You need to have some kind of help. I’m going to offer you a guide . And that guide will be a trusted voice”.
Iovine is mostly wrong when he says that the existing subscription services don’t offer recommendation filters; they all do to some extent. But he’s correct that if you’re going to push a service offering a music fan gazillions of songs, you really do need to provide some form of route map that flatters the consumers – all music fans believe themselves to have “cooler” tastes than they actually have – but isn’t just another souped-up “if you liked that, you will like this” crappy recommendation engine. (One streaming service suggested Andre Rieu to me after playing a Blue Nile song).
Iovine makes the point that his record label background (something none of the other streaming service chiefs can boast of) means “curation” is his strong point. “It’s what we did at the label – we curated,” he says. “There are 150 white rappers in the US; we served you one” – Eminem.
If “curation” is the key to Daisy (or Beats Streaming Service, as it may still be called), all Iovine is saying is that he will blend a mix of human music creators who will work alongside standard smart algorithms to serve up a better way to listen to music.
Iovine cracked the code with Beats. He got a whole cohort to throw out their white in-ear headphones and pay top dollar for better audio quality and he did this, partly if not mainly, from selling ghetto chic (the Dre name) to his white, middle-class target market. If he cracks the streaming code, we’re all winners.
Richard Hawley: “I’ve as much chance of winning a Brit award as I do of seeing the Queen’s tits.”
2013 may be the year of Beyoncé, but her new TV documentary, Life Is But a Dream, is utterly whack