Apple Executives Mingled at Pre-Grammy Party Amid Discussions on Future of Beats and iTunes

While the Grammy Awards happened last weekend, information on a few Apple-related conversations happening at and around Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy party are just now beginning to emerge, reports Billboard. Representing Apple at the gala were Tim Cook, Eddy Cue, Jimmy Iovine and iTunes VP Robert Kondrk, with the Apple executives chatting with a number of music industry representatives during the event.

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.

Left to right: Al Gore, Eddy Cue, Tim Cook, Jimmy Iovine, Nancy Pelosi at Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy party (Photo via Mashable)
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.

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.

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.

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.“




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Check out Apple’s killer 2015 Grammy Awards ad

Ahead of last night’s 57th annual Grammy Awards, Apple debuted a brand new iPad commercial called “Change,” showing just how easy it is to record music on the iPad. Featuring Swedish singer Elliphant, Los Angeles-based producer Gaslamp Killer, and English…Read more ›



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Apple Debuts Music-Themed iPad Air 2 Ad Ahead of Grammy Awards

Ahead of tonight’s telecast of the 57th annual Grammy Awards, Apple has debuted a new music-themed iPad commercial titled „Change“ featuring Swedish singer Elliphant, Los Angeles-based producer Gaslamp Killer, and English DJ Riton.

The ad shows the three musicians composing a remix to Elliphant’s „All Or Nothing“ entirely on an iPad, from initial songwriting, production, recording, and more. Apps shown throughout the add include Apple’s GarageBand for songwriting, iMPC Pro for production, Serato Remote for live performances and Manual Camera for filming video.

Billboard also reports that Apple CEO Tim Cook and SVP of Internet Software and Services were the focus of much attention at a pre-Grammy party held by record producer Clive Davis. Apple is estimated to have paid upwards of $2 million for its Grammy ad.

The new iPad ad follows rumors of a revamped Beats Music subscription service, with a report last week noting that Apple would be charging $7.99 per month for access on OS X , iOS, Apple TV, and Android. Apple is expected to relaunch Beats Music later this year, possibly at June during the company’s annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference.




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Trent Reznor Working on ‘Challenging’ Music Delivery Project at Apple

Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor, who serves as Chief Creative Officer of Beats Music, became an Apple employee alongside Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre when Apple acquired Beats back in May.

In a new interview with Billboard, Reznor revealed that he joined the company because Apple was „interested in tapping his creative energy“ and that he’s currently working on designing a product related to music delivery for Apple. According to Reznor, no one has hit „the right formula“ when it comes to streaming music.

Beats Music co-founder Jimmy Iovine with Trent Reznor, image courtesy of USA Today

„I am on the side of streaming music, and I think the right streaming service could solve everybody’s problems,“ says Reznor, who along with Ross will participate in a keynote Q&A at the Billboard/Hollywood Reporter Film & TV Music Conference being held at Universal City’s Globe Theater on Nov. 5. „Ownership is waning. Everybody is comfortable with the cloud – your documents, who knows where they are? They are there when you need them. That idea that I’ve got my records on the shelf doesn’t feel as important even to me as it used to. I just think we haven’t quite hit the right formula yet.“

Reznor says his role at Apple is an evolution of his Beats role and that Apple has him designing products for the company. While he declined to go into detail, he did say that he’s doing „very creative work that’s not directly making music,“ but is instead related to music delivery. His work, he says, is „challenging“ and „could have a big enough impact that it’s worth the effort.“

Beats was bought by Apple, and they expressed direct interest in me designing some products with them. 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.

Rumors have suggested that Apple plans to completely revamp Beats Music, possibly rolling it into iTunes. A rebranding is planned, and new features and a lower price could be part of the Beats Music redesign. It’s possible that Reznor, who says he’s working on the streaming music side of things, is helping decide on the direction Apple’s streaming music service will take. Apple may be planning to unveil its revamped music subscription service and new branding as early as February, ahead of the 2015 Grammy Awards.

Reznor’s full interview, which also includes tidbits on his early life, his interest in movies, his work on Gone Girl, comments on U2’s „Songs of Innocence“ iTunes release, and more, can be read at Billboard.




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AT&T No Longer Offering Beats Music Subscriptions to Customers

AT&T is no longer offering Beats Music subscriptions to its subscribers as an add-on service, according to an AT&T employee who spoke to MacRumors. The cellular company has ceased giving customers the option to sign up for Beats Music when purchasing a new phone plan and the Beats Music website has been updated to remove its „Subscribe with AT&T“ options.

AT&T employees have also been instructed to stop selling Beats Music subscriptions to customers, suggesting the partnership between Beats Music and AT&T has come to an end following Apple’s Beats acquisition.

AT&T subscription options formerly offered on the Beats Music Pricing page
Beats Music and AT&T first struck an exclusive deal shortly before the service’s initial debut, with AT&T offering multiple Beats Music subscription options, including a family pack that allowed users to share Beats Music with up to five family members. AT&T also offered extended trial periods of up to 90 days and promoted the music service to customers both online and in-store.

It’s likely the deal between Beats Music and AT&T has ended due to Apple’s $3 billion purchase of both Beats Music and Beats Electronics in May, but it is unclear why AT&T has been able to continue to offer Beats Music subscriptions up until October.

Rumors have suggested that Apple has plans to rebrand Beats Music, and its upcoming retooling may also be the reason behind the dissolution of the AT&T partnership. Along with changing the Beats Music name, Apple is said to be planning to introduce new features and it is also hoping to offer the service at a lower cost, asking music labels to cut their rates.

It is unknown when Apple plans to reveal its revamped music service, but rumors have hinted that its debut could come alongside the 2015 Grammy Awards in February, which means that Apple engineers and designers are likely already hard at work on the rebranding.

Update: Reached for comment, an AT&T spokesman gave the following statement:

There haven’t been any changes for AT&T customers who currently have the Beats Music family plan or who are within their free trial period. New subscribers can still get Beats Music through their app store or at beatsmusic.com.





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Apple to reveal rebranded version of Beats Music in February

Apple isn’t shutting down Beats Music service, the stream music service it bought in May, but the company isn’t planning to keep the brand name around much longer, reports Recode’s John Paczkowski who says Apple’s rebranding of the streaming music…Read more ›



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‘Industry Scuttlebutt’ Hints Apple May Be Planning February Revamp for Beats Music

Apple might be planning to unveil both its revamped music subscription service and its new branding alongside the upcoming 2015 Grammy Awards, reports Re/code, citing some „industry scuttlebutt.“

When will Apple show off the new version of its subscription service and its new brand? Here’s a guess backed up by some industry scuttlebutt: February – presumably timed to the Grammy Awards, which will be held Feb. 8.

News of an upcoming rebrand first surfaced yesterday, after TechCrunch reported that Apple would be shutting down Beats Music. An Apple representative quickly refuted the claim saying it was „not true.“ Re/code went on to suggest that while Apple won’t be shuttering Beats Music, the company may have plans to „modify it over time,“ changing the brand name.

Apple first acquired Beats Music back in May, and at the time, announced plans to leave the service untouched. There were no plans to integrate Beats Music into iTunes, with the company suggesting the streaming music service would remain as a standalone product. Beats Music was largely seen as Apple’s answer to popular services like Spotify, aimed at improving declining music sales.

In recent weeks, Apple has made quite an effort to promote Beats Music, adding it to the list of „Apps Made by Apple“ and recommending the app to new iOS users. Apple also added a Beats Music channel to the Apple TV last week alongside the release of iOS 8.

Thus far, there is no word on what Apple is planning for Beats Music, but a source at TechCrunch has suggested that Apple might roll the streaming music functionality into iTunes.




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