Jimmy Iovine holds nothing back in streaming talk.

By Don Reisinger
May 18, 2017

Apple executive and music industry veteran Jimmy Iovine is not a fan of free music streaming.

Speaking to Music Business Worldwide in an interview published this week, Iovine said that paid music streaming like his own company’s Apple Music is stymied in part by free music streaming services. He ultimately believes the music industry will need to do something about those free services to generate more revenue on streaming music.

“Two things have to happen: free has to become more difficult or restricted, and the paid services have to get better,” Iovine said in the interview, which was earlier reported on by 9to5Mac.

Iovine joined Apple AAPL in 2014 after the iPhone maker acquired Beats, a company he co-founded with musician and producer Dr. Dre. While Beats was best known for its ubiquitous headphones, which remain on store shelves, Apple acquired the company in large part for a music streaming service Beats had developed. Soon after, it became the foundation for Apple Music.

In the last couple of years, Apple has grown its Apple Music to more than 20 million subscribers. Apple charges $10 a month for a single Apple Music subscription and $15 per month for a family option. Students can pay $5 per month for access to the streaming service.

Despite its growth, Apple Music is still far behind its chief competitor, Spotify, which has attracted more than 50 million subscribers. Spotify has the same pricing model as Apple Music.

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Still, free services are ubiquitous and provide music lovers the opportunity to listen to their favorite tracks without paying for those songs. In most of those cases, the services are ad-supported and users are limited in the number of songs they can skip. However, in free offerings from Pandora P and even Spotify, it’s not difficult to curate playlists to get exactly the kind of music users want at any moment.

Over the years, the music industry has decried free streaming services and encouraged customers to either buy songs or choose paid services. Many industry executives have grown increasingly frustrated and disappointed by the rather slow uptick in paid streaming subscriptions.

For his part, Iovine didn’t say how the industry could, or perhaps, should, restrict free services. He did, however, say that it’s incumbent upon paid providers to improve their services and ultimately create more attractive and well-rounded services that customers will want to use.

“We have a lot of ideas I can’t talk about,” Iovine said in the interview.” But we see Apple Music as a cultural platform, and music is becoming more and more about storytelling.”

Apple has already said that it plans to offer original video content through Apple Music, including a series focused on the popular “Carpool Karaoke” sketches from The Late Late Show with James Corden. The company is expected to discuss that and other Apple Music features in more detail during its keynote at the Worldwide Developers Conference on June 5.

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