Jimmy Iovine defends Apple Music’s paid-only model, claims free tier would have 400 million listeners by now

“In an interview published this week, Beats co-founder and Apple Music executive Jimmy Iovine raised vocal opposition to the concept of ‘free’ music, simultaneously arguing that if Apple had a free tier like Spotify, it would ‘have 400 million people on it,'” Roger Fingas reports for AppleInsider.

“‘The fact is that ‘free’ in music streaming is so technically good and ubiquitous that it’s stunting the growth of paid streaming,'” Iovine said to Music Business Worldwide,” Fingas reports. “Iovine complained that many musicians believe there’s little money in recorded music, and in some cases are using it solely for promotion, willing to make sacrifices simply to get exposure and sell concert tickets and merchandise.”

“Iovine further argued that ‘people who pay for subscriptions should be advantaged,'” Fingas reports. “This is part of the reason behind Apple’s recent push into original video content — the company is readying shows like Carpool Karaoke and Planet of the Apps, as well as a slate of documentaries and other exclusives.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We don’t feel particularly “advantaged” by a knockoff melange of Shark Tank and The Voicefocused on App developers and we don’t foresee that sort of derivative crap as attracting Apple Music subscribers. It’s called Apple MUSIC, Jimmy. Carpool Karaoke works. Project Geeklight, er… Planet of the Apps just doesn’t (unless every single app to be pitched is a music app, which we highly doubt). Either change the name of the service or give us Apple Music subscribers as many music-related exclusives as you can possibly manage.

Musicians and the music industry undermine themselves by allowing their music to be streamed by “free,” ad-supported outfits.MacDailyNews, December 17, 2015

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]


  1. Music has been devalued for quite some time now. It sure ain’t the 50’s-90’s anymore. The real money is now in live performance but for a new group how do you get your initial fan base to start attending with the crowds needed for live performance profit without recorded music exposure? It’s becoming more a come-on giveaway for concerts. The Internet has sure spoiled and killed a lot of businesses like how robots will destroy jobs. But ain’t technology great!!

    1. A wise musician once said “you can be a musician or be in the music business, but you cannot be both”. Jimmy Iovine is in the Music business.

      There are guys in Memphis ( I live in the burbs nearby) nobody has heard of who play for the love of music or in small churches on Sunday that can wipe the floor with most of the people you call artists.

      Finally, I do not rent my house, car or music. I rented Beer at the Octoberfest, but the line to piss was longer than the line to get Beer. Music worth listening to is worth owning. If you cannot see yourself buying an album it is probably not worth your time.

      1. A lot of valid points but it would be more factual if you switched all of the last sentence to first person:

        I BELIEVE THAT Music worth listening to is worth owning…
        If I cannot see MYSELF buying an album it is probably not worth MY time.

        Not everybody is the same my friend. I used to think the same way that you do. But with all the crap they put out now I had not bought or hardly even listened to new music in 10 years. I spent $800 on iTunes music (every song I ever liked, totaled about 800 songs) when I first switched to a Mac then I just listened to that for 10 years and got bored with it. I tried Apple Rent a Music and totally rediscovered music again that I would have never bought. I’m on a $15 a month family plan that all 5 of us thoroughly enjoy.

        See how your exact scenario does not fit for everybody?

        1. If you wish to listen to 128 AAC DRMed tracks be my guest, but that is no excuse for Apple trying to force people onto the Rental Plan- which is the long term plan.

          Just like the Mac, iTunes has been depreciated and compromised for the rental service. Apple could get more revenue for Jazz, Classical and other music types by offering an upgrade to Apple Lossless like they did from 124 to 256 sampling via the iTunes Plus Program.
          On a good system you can really hear the difference between Lossy AAC and the Lossless Codec.

  2. spotify has 50 m subs vs 20 m Apple and Spotify LOSES MONEY.

    I wish Iovine would release his Apple Music profit stats before spouting.

    Everytime Iovine ex-producer talks he says how wonderful it is for the MUSIC INDUSTRY , but as usual read the linked article he says not one word about how it’s good for Apple Investors (btw he also hardly says in what way Apple Music is better for consumers than rival services)

    (note: Iovine spends HUGE amounts of money on musician ‘exclusives’, on DJs, curators (hundreds of them he says), shows like Planet of the Apps with top talent and 10 m prize. To me getting 20 m subs from Apple customers 1 billion registered credit card numbers is not impressive… )

      1. Ahrendts first year salary was 60 million (due to monster sign up bonus)

        Macs (which a lot of people I argue with say is ‘over’ ) generated 5+ BILLION (5000 plus million) in Q2 which is the QUIET quarter. For Christmas it generates billions more.

        What is the Expenses of Apple Music? I sincerely doubt it even breaks even if Spotify with 50 m paid subscribers loses money and Iovine is proud that Apple Music has MORE human curators, more exclusives, pays out more to artists (i.e more expenses )….

  3. For anyone who knows their music history, Jimmy Iovine has had a real career in music, having worked with legendary performers whose names everyone knows. He’s not just some guy that Apple picked up out of nowhere.

            1. Dead wrong. The “fifth Beatle” not only arranged some of the most popular songs, he played many instruments in several songs. Martin was a multi instrumentalist and a gifted pianist

            2. Actually George Martin played Piano and the Oboe and studied them at Guildhall School of Music and Drama. So, he was a Musician. he also did Orchestration for The Beatles and composed parts for songs such as Eleanor Rigby.
              Iovine is a wannbe hanger on.

  4. If every MDN reader would listen to my album a thousand times each, I might earn about $5 from Spotify. Maybe double that from Apple Music, depending on the rate of currency exchange.

  5. Musicians a generation ago made money on Recordings and toured to support the sales of Albums. Today, musicians make their money performing live and very little commonly on the recordings. Like it or not, that is how it is.

    1. Only somewhat true. For those who made it onto the top 100 of radio and were able to fulfil their initial record contract, but for the rest, touring and record sales brought in pitiful money. My friend toured heavily and sold over 2 million records (10 albums over 15 years) but ultimately found himself penniless sleeping in my basement after the record company took everything he had and took ownership of anything he would ever create musically for the rest of his life. On every $20 album sold, the record company gave him $.02 which was again taken to repay their touring debt. Radio royalties were taken as well.

      He got a lot farther than I ever did. I though he was lucky. He looked at my house and said I was the lucky one.

      Today a musician can record at home, self promote, and self finance sales (IE: Ok Go!). They may not get stinking rich without a distribution deal from the majors but they can make decent money selling tickets, mp3s and T’s. That part just wasn’t possible a few decades ago.

      As for Levine, he’s just trying to create a snob layer for “audiophiles” who will pay stupid money for the sake of image.

  6. And in other music news, Chris Cornell, lead singer of Soundgarden, just died. For a music geek like myself it’s a pretty big deal.

    In short, bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, The Pixies, and hundreds of others were instrumental in reviving rock music from the dung heap of crap ’80s hair bands and death metal.

    Tonight, I decided to take a trip down memory lane, and listened to some Soundgarden on Apple Music. As always, there was music I never heard before on the platform.

    If you enjoy Soundgarden and/or grunge here is a compilation I just put together about an hour ago:


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