Apple Music’s Iovine, Reznor, Cue and Kondrk on streaming’s new world order and why ‘we all should be’ worried

“Twelve months of Apple Music have brought the service 15 million paid subscribers and, for its architects, a sense of optimistic, if slightly cautious, calm,” Shirley Halperin reports for Billboard. “Or so it looked at the Apple Worldwide Developers’ Conference on Monday afternoon, where Apple senior vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue, ‎vice president of Content and Media Apps Robert Kondrk, Nine Inch Nails frontman and Apple Music Chief Creative Officer Trent Reznor and the still title-less Jimmy Iovine gathered for a talk with Billboard.”

Some snippets:

YouTube has been increasingly vilified by the labels. How do you view its current standing?

Reznor: Personally, I find YouTube’s business to be very disingenuous. It is built on the backs of free, stolen content and that’s how they got that big. I think any free-tiered service is not fair. It’s making their numbers and getting them a big IPO and it is built on the back of my work and that of my peers. That’s how I feel about it. Strongly. We’re trying to build a platform that provides an alternative — where you can get paid and an artist can control where their [content] goes.

Thirteen years of working with the music industry seems to have positioned Apple as a sort of bridge between north and south California — the tech- and product-based Silicon Valley and Los Angeles, the hub of content creation. How do you view the divide, and Apple’s role?

Cue: One of the great things about Steve [Jobs] was that, because of his [stake in] Pixar, he had a very different understanding of entertainment and of L.A. and Hollywood… It’s one of the reasons we’ve been successful from the early days. How I met Jimmy, more than a decade ago now, was about that. I’ve always felt that technology companies have disrespected the content creation process and the content creation people disrespect technology. Both think, “How hard [could it be]?” The truth is, and I understand this really well, is that both of them are artists when it comes down to it. A programmer starts with a blank screen, no different than starting a song with a blank sheet of paper.

Much more in the full interview here.

MacDailyNews Take: The music labels should sack up and shorten up this long slog a bit by saying: “No free tiers.”

Apple Music will get a makeover, but it needs much more – June 13, 2016
Apple Music adds another million subscribers in 1 month, surpasses 11 million paying members – February 12, 2016
Apple Music subscribers could hit 100 million users in 6 years – January 11, 2016
Apple Music nabs 10 million subscribers in 6 months, which took Spotify 6 years – January 10, 2016
Uh-oh, Spotify: People are paying up for Apple Music – November 5, 2015
Why Apple Music will win in streaming music – October 27, 2015
Apple Music takes a huge bite out of Pandora – October 23, 2015
Taylor Swift calls Spotify a ‘start-up with no cash flow’ – August 4, 2015
Oh ok, Spotify listeners are upgrading to Apple Music – July 19, 2015
Apple Music could kill more than just Spotify, it could kill music labels, too – June 25, 2015
Why Apple Music will gut and publicly execute Spotify – June 10, 2015
Spotify CEO claims to be ‘ok’ with Apple Music – June 9, 2015
Jimmy Iovine and Eddy Cue: Apple Music gunning for Spotify, YouTube, and terrestrial radio – June 9, 2015
Apple Music’s huge advantage over Spotify – June 9, 2015
Apple’s revolutionary Apple Music just might prove its skeptics wrong – June 8, 2015
Apple unveils revolutionary Apple Music service – June 8, 2015


  1. Free-ish tiers exist as in radio ad revenue. So its not free, but less convenient. I don’t mind advertising. I just don’t want in your face, let’s interrupt your whole screen advertising. Or on the radio, 10 minutes of commercials, on all the stations at the same time, that kind of sucks.

    When it comes to streaming, I liked how iTunes Ratio started out, with stations and occasional acceptable adverts, while also limited skip of songs you don’t like.

    I have reservations paying what I do for Apple Music. Out of 4 of us, My son and I, are the only ones that get use out of it. And I don’t particularly care, because I listen to podcasts. I do make use of Apple Music, with my effort, as least we are better than breaking even. My other son, simply likes Pandora curated stations better. Well I am trying at least. But I still feel like $180 per year, could be better spent.
    just saying.

    1. Pay with discounted iTunes cards. I stick up when I see 20% off deals. That way all of the books, music, even iCloud that I buy is 20% off. Apple Music costs me only $8 a month.

      1. I listen to NPR, but again mostly podcasts, and not for music.

        Don’t get me wrong, I like Apple Music. I just had hoped the family used it more than it does. I am still saving money.

    2. I can’t get into Apple Music it just doesn’t seem to get what I like. I actually was about to cancel my slacker sub when they came out with this favorites station that plays my favorite songs across all my created stations.
      So I go from thousand foot krutch to big bad voodoo daddy to frank Sinatra to the Beatles. It’s great.
      I sure don’t like apples live stations I’d much use my SiriusXM then Apple Music.

      I just don’t see what’s so great about it.

      1. I think Apple Music needs more time and human curation of music. They need to listen to their audience, so to speak. Radio One does have music requests, and I like the shared experience, but would prefer more stations based on genre. This would be for basic discovery, allowing me to fill in my library.

        Also my son was asking about how to make a song repeat.

  2. Here’s the reality:
    The days of good music worth actually spending money on ended quite some time ago but the industry kept on truckin.

    Now the scene is infested with auto-tuned Miley Bieber, brainless misogynistic (c)rap and nonentity ‘music’ 90% of which is based on the same exact 4 chords called the Sensitive Female Chord Progression.

    Apple bought into this with ‘Beats’. And here is who they aligned themselves with:

    Yeah, nobody with any musical taste is worried.

    1. The days of good music worth actually spending money on ended quite some time ago

      I disagree. Actually finding the good music can be an annoying PITA. I’ve discovered some great music by listening to other people’s collections, such as at our local tea lounge. Word of mouth helps. Listening to one of the ‘like music’ streaming services helps. I use Pandora.

      Here are some contemporary music artists I greatly enjoy:

      – Little Boots
      – Wild Nothing
      – Ladytron
      – Marnie (of Ladytron)
      – Estroe
      – Fisherspooner
      – Silent Corners
      – Tame Impala
      – Miss Kittin
      – Toby Sebastian
      – Underworld
      – We The Kings
      – Rob Dougan
      – Foster The People
      – Client

      These are all active contemporary bands that I had to dig around to find. Not a single one of them is played on my local radio, including ‘Foster The People’ for gawd knows what reason. All of them are terrific and worth my money. I own nearly all of their stuff! (Although the second ‘Foster The People’ album sucks specifically because it sounds like it was produced by some corporate A&R dweeb. Record company executives are their own worst enemy).

      1. You both make good points. I see the difference as what is being pushed by the big labels and radio stations, and then Real Musician’s point is completely valid. Foster the People is the only group on your list I have heard of before, and that is likely because of their second album you don’t like being pushed by A&R lackeys. There *is* good music out there, but it isn’t on mainstream radio. (I don’t listen to it much anymore, but spend more time listening to Christian radio, which I like thematically, but tends to be just as lacking in quality of songwriting and musicianship. The push for the “pop radio sound” is just as big a problem there. I remember when Flyleaf was good. Then a “big” label got ahold of them, and they are no longer special. Big Daddy Weave showed some real musicianship in their early stuff; now it is as boring as everything else on the radio.) I will be checking out the bands you listed. 🙂

        1. Thank you! I entirely agree regarding ‘what is being pushed by the big labels’. It’s schlock, highly enabled by the dull musician mills that are the ‘reality’ talent shows on TV.

          No indeed: Good music is NOT on mainstream radio. When I want to catch some actually modern, non-corporate tunes, I end up listening over the Internet to the few alternative radio stations around the planet. One is in New Zealand, one in the UK and one in my home town run by the local special education service. Odd eh that a special ed oriented radio station is the only one on this side of my state that has modern music worth listening to.

          Regarding Christian radio, there are still the traditional sort of stations around. But the music itself has matured remarkably since I was a kid. There are Christian tunes well worth enjoying, as opposed to them merely being mock-ups of top 40 rubbish in order to entice the kids. – – I don’t know the musicians you mention but I’ll look them up!

          Of the bands I listed, the one you’ll like least is Client. It’s a two woman group that digs way deep into what it’s like to live the ‘professional’ live in London, UK. They’re intensely cynical and dark, but I like some of the tunes and often get cynical myself, for those who haven’t noticed, especially about how women are treated around the planet.

            1. I believe you misunderstand. The women in the band Client express the dark relationship ‘professional’ women have with themselves. Most of their songs are about women lost in the mess mankind has made of women’s culture. You’d have to hear/read the lyrics to understand.

              I think of this as art and I sympathize. I have NO interest in a dark relationship with women. Instead, I’d like our various human cultures to do away with their dark relationships with women.

              I hope that helps. The only people I don’t treat with respect are those that don’t treat others with respect. My archangel michael junior play set sword comes out and I do battle. It’s typically all about ourselves, how we treat ourselves being translated into how we treat others. With kids, I enjoy enabling self-respect. But once someone has ‘grown up’ into a self-loather bully, I am motivated to end their self-loathing enablement of others, the opposite of what we all should be doing for the future of our species. And so on. 😀

            2. A dark relationship with the IDEA of women. Sorry if I took Freudian motifs for granted. He’s enjoyed something of a revival since the ripening of evolutionary psychology, if you didn’t know. Today, both science and culture are sorting through the trunk discovering which traditional notions are true to our nature and which are vicious deceptions. The “cynicism” of Client is I think a good example of this kind of airing out, and I’m happy we are both alive at a time that it’s happening.

  3. Setting aside the free-loader and illegal music sharing…

    What ticks off music lovers and consumers is the consistently, continuously BAD ATTITUDE of the media corporations. They treat their customers, us, as DEFAULT CRIMINALS. We are, according to their bad attitude, going to steal their media. We are all crooks and we all have to be treated as crooks to the point of stopping us from even having access to FAIR USE of our purchased media.

    The clear starting point of all this customer abuse was when Sony secretly perpetrated ROOT KIT malware onto Windows PC machines for the sole purpose of secretly surveilling the music use behavior of their customers. Adding insult to injury, this SPYWARE ROOT KIT turned out to be usable by any savvy hacker for surveilling victimized computers. Sony grudgingly pulled their root kit off their CDs and provided a method of removal from infected machines.

    But that very same bad attitude of abuse continues today in both the TPP and TTIP trade ‘treaties’ that both Democrats AND Republicans are attempting to shove down the throats of We The People as well as the throats of nearly every other country on the planet. That’s how paranoid, hate-filled and abusive the media corporations have become. They literally HATE their customers.

    Vast numbers of customer HATE them back via retribution in the form of actual media robbery. If customers are treated as default criminals, of course they’ll respond by living up to that abusive bad attitude. The media companies are too antiquated, poorly run and outright stupid to figure out that THEY are the problem, NOT their customers.

    This same old story is played out year after year after year. When will the corporate lame-brains figure this out?!

    Adam Engst of TidBITS has taken the OPPOSITE approach with his company’s ‘Take Control’ book series. They actually ENCOURAGE customers to SHARE their books with others as a form of free marketing. This Trust-Thy-Customer great attitude has paid off because their customers enjoy being treated with respect and return that respect by PAYING for their books rather than ripping off TidBITS. Imagine that! THAT is the way to run a customer-serving company. Plain old simple respect.

        1. Oh, so you’ve never read any of my posts? You simply look for my name and *DING* me with one star. IOW: Your behavior is reflecting your own mindlessness brain, devoid of any real content. I figured that was the case. So change your name to ‘Birdbrain’ already! And yes, I thoroughly enjoy insulting rectal holes such as yourself. And I highly suspect you enjoy it as well, which is why you excrete your hate and abuse on others.

          IOW: You’re welcome.

  4. More people than ever in the history of man-kind listen to new music. It’s everywhere and everyone gets to listen to it one way or another. So with that it’s bizarre to see musicians and labels make exceedingly less and artists not being able to make a living off of it today. And yes it’s Youtube and others who are to blame. And yes they deserve to be taken out back and beaten silly for it. And yes it’s insane that it’s up to artists to have to pay and sort over policing YouTube instead of YouTube doing it on its own because it’s their service. Insane that the onus has been in the artists and labels to have to sort through that mess and ask for take downs. If Google cans use machine learning to detect faces and objects in pictures well maybe they should be held liable for all illicit content on YouTube.

  5. Listening to what’s churned out today,it is very hard to dignify it by calling it “music”.

    And now thankfully I realise I don’t have to insult the word ever again. Thanks to this interview I realise that this stuff is not music at all. It’s “content creation”.

    “Have you heard Beyoncé’s latest bit of ‘content creation’?”

    I like it!

    1. I think you haven’t tried looking for good music. There are massive amounts of it on Apple Music; one just have to make an effort to find it. You have to ignore what big labels are pushing and what’s widely promoted in the media.

      Not all music is made by Beyoncé or Taylor Swift.

      1. I won’t say that most contemporary music is bad, but do I think that many people who “defend” what is put out today confuse the idea of “good” music with what it is that they like.

        I don’t that. Listen to my tunes and, overall, the only thing they have in common is they have nothing in common. I do have a lot of classic rock/pop, but there’s also some bubblegum, classical, hard rock, jazz, metal, synth, and some stuff I can’t classify.

        My taste is eclectic. So much so, I doubt any algorithm, let alone a person, could predict what I would like. Hell, I can’t do it. So much for finding “good” music.

      2. I like to think I can generalise, oversimplify, and stereotype as well as anyone, so here goes…

        What was churned out in the nineties was derivative pablum compared to the eighties, in which screeching copycats plundered the seventies, a sad era of overreaching the sixties, which lampooned the fifties, which rejected the desperate fun of the forties, which rose above the melancholia of the thirties, which rejected the upbeat twenties, which stamped out the racist music of Stephen Foster…and this is all just popular music mind you. Similar philosophical shifts moved through so-called “serious” music over the generations, similarly affecting reputations. The literary sphere had its own convulsions and corrections. Excellence is a standard eroded by time and sculpted by the winds of prejudice.

        1. …After all, who can ever forget the scandalous opening night of Stravinski’s “The Rite of Spring”…

          is there any place online where one can find more of your original writing? The morsels served here are delicious, but the appetite is far greater… There was another poster, a little while back (perhaps year or two), under the name hannahjs, of whom your writings remind me quite a lot.

            1. i enlisted help to write a proper blog and still failed miserably. But it’s all good; I met someone who became jealous of my spending so much time on the Internet and yanked me back to a semblance of normal life! Picnics and gardening and horseback riding are infinitely more rewarding than the hunting of the snark.

            2. Lovely work, that Bernstein sonata! That must be truly a lot of fun, having it live at home!

              The article was great, too. My weapon of choice i Sibelius (the software) and I can totally relate to the points related to working with living composers, having it done twice in the past year (and once with a new work, for a world premiere). Technology removes so many practical obstacles from the process, and if you’re very proficient with it, it is an amazing enabler. Revisions (sometimes, quite extensive ones) make their way from the composer, through the conductor, to the musicians’ stands between morning and evening rehearsals, even when the musicians are still reading from the printed copies (we can’t afford 50 iPad Pros for our community orchestra…). As for the writer’s argument that you no longer see the creative struggle of the creative process on the digitally printed page, that may be true, but you can still see quite many things from the way the composer entered the music in Sibelius / Finale / MuseScore. For those experienced in these tools, there are hidden clues that can be detected. With all the advancements in the music engraving industry, we still have a long way to go before we get truly automatic perfect layout and typesetting. The tools do a lot of great work, but humans still need to make many manual adjustments before the score looks good for musicians, and it is here where one can recognise the elements of creative struggle. It may not be a wonderfully sketched-out Beethoven, but there is still stuff between the lines (staves) that tells its stories.

            3. You make it all sound exciting, even without the New York backdrop. Alas, I can only dream of of that kind of creative engagement. I can however relate to the forensic aspect, if I may call it that, in reconstructing a thought process or decision path.

              Besides Bernstein my first-ever program includes Willson Osborne – Rhapsody, Barber – Ballade, Gershwin – Preludes, Copland – Concerto for Clarinet. All-American! 🇺🇸 (Donald Trump would approve, I’m sure) 🤔

  6. Steve Jobs and iTunes has single-handedly saved the music industry from implosion. When piracy practically wiped out music sales (and forced labels to focus on lowest common denominator crap, supplemented by massive concert touring), Jobs strong-armed the labels (who went along kicking and screaming) into selling downloads online. It worked — the sales decline was arrested, and the industry saved.

    Then came Pandora, Spotify, and now Apple Music. And the threat of extinction is real again. Music streaming is extremely disadvantageous to the creators. It pays significantly less than outright sale of music, and it takes forever even for the most popular tracks to generate any meaningful revenue. If you had a hit song on iTunes, and it sells thousands (or millions) of downloads, you’d immediately get paid thousands (or millions) of dollars, especially if you released the song independently (and are receiving some 80% of sales revenue). When your hit song is streamed, you would need every person to stream it at least 300 times in order to generate the same payout as if they bought the song outright on iTunes. For many, this is not likely to ever happen.

  7. Cue and Iovine, guys with the taste for money not music is what is wrong. As long as people like this are in charge of Apple’s Music it will emphasize bad compressed payola music over the huge amount of quality talent out there.

  8. Any of the geniuses think maybe sales have fallen because the shit they purvey is not worth buying?
    That and
    Most of us past 30 have most of the catalog of music we will ever buy?

    The music industry got fat reselling some of what many of us had previously purchased on LP, CD or Cassette. Did they think the gravy train would last forever?

    If it has hip, hop, rap or any of the words in combination as a description, count me and most of humanity out.

    Apple Music is a failure. A multi-billion Dollar failure. Access to almost a Billion accounts and only 13 million paid customers?

    Steve Ballmer overpaid for the Clippers, but at least he got something of value for it. Tim Cook pissed away almost $3 Billion on Beats and got recalled defective speakers and a me too music service for the money.

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