Could a Beats subscription service repeat the success of the headphones brand?
These days it feels like every minor innovation in music production, retail or streaming is out to “revolutionize” the business, but Jimmy Iovine is confident that he has the real deal this time. Iovine’s streaming service, Beats, is about to launch on January 21st, according to USA Today, offers something that competitors like iTunes or Spotify do not – curation.
Iovine is planning a coup of the musical retail industry.
"Access to music and algorithms aren't enough," Iovine tells USA TODAY. "Music can fuel your highs and lows, but music doesn't do that with 'Here's 16 million songs and give me your credit card and good luck.' Our service will be of service."
It sounds similar to services which have tried – and failed – to corner the market, most notably the online streaming service Pandora. Unlike its predeccessors however, Beats will offer playlists produced not by an algorithm, but by actual living, breathing experts in the industry.
"We appreciate the importance of what music is, that it's not just a digital file," says Trent Reznor, the Nine Inch Nails founder turned Oscar-winning film composer who serves as Beats Music's chief creative officer. "Everything that makes it into your line of sight has been blessed by someone deep into music. We're all about trying to be that new trusted source."
Chief Creative Officer Trent Reznor is also confident that the service will appeal to avid music fans.
Something that might get in Iovine’s way, however, is the fact that his revolutionary new service will not come for free. The entrepreneur, Interscope Records co-founder and American Idol mentor, explained his views on monetization. e. "Free sucks, and we don't want to do anything that sucks," he says. “With free, you get what you pay for. It's the commercials, it's the wrong songs, and it's the wrong sequence. I don't listen to music that way.”
Beats Music will cost $10 a month per subscription, but in a negotiated coup, AT&T customers will be offered a family plan for a flat $15. It’s doubtful whether this service will trump all the free musical sources already available online (even youtube playlists), but Iovine is confident that the expertise of musical experts will be attractive to customers. According to industry insiders, Iovine could build a strong brand on the back of the success of Beats headphones, but even so, the streaming service will face some tough competition.
Iovine's new service will be rather costly in comparison to the free listening offered online.