Businessman and record producer Jimmy Iovine has enjoyed his share of success in the industry, and now he’s aiming to use his position to help revive it. He recently spoke at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit, a gathering of some of the world’s most influential pop-culture figures. Iovine used a good portion of his time to discuss the music industry and how it’s slowly rotting away, citing free streaming services as a major catalyst of the industry decline.
“Free is a real issue. This whole thing about freemium, maybe at one time we needed it. But now it’s a shell game. These companies are building an audience on the back of the artist.”
Iovine went on to single out the popular streaming service Spotify, claiming it’s cheating artists out of their rightfully earned money. It should be noted that Jimmy recently joined the Apple team, offering his services after Apple acquired Dr. Dre’s Beats. While Apple offered a free tier of service through their Apple Music outlet, it was limited to a three month period that ended last week. However, during these three months, Apple paid artists all their earned royalties. This came after pop icon Taylor Swift penned a letter to Apple denouncing the free trial period as it originally took away three months of streaming pay for an artist.
Iovine cited the Taylor Swift incident as a step in the right direction, saying that Apple execs Tim Cook and Eddie Cue “moved like lightning and they did the right thing.” Their actions earned Apple Music a considerable amount of exposure, and it seems like it paid off; Iovine went on to say “I wouldn’t be here if [Apple Music] weren’t doing well.” So while the official numbers are unknown, apparently Apple Music is holding its ground and thriving. This comes as quite a shock, given the existence of an virtually unlimited number of free streaming services.
Part of Apple Music’s success could be attributed to the company’s proactive steps to ensure a bit of exclusivity in their music. It was reported earlier that Apple was pressuring their label partners into removing their content from Spotify’s free tier of service. They also struck a deal with UMG, paying the company to remove its content from YouTube. While this may seem like an ‘asshole’ move on Apple’s part, it really is a step in the right direction in regards to artist compensation. While I’m sure we all enjoy free music, there will eventually come a time when we need to pay up and give compensation where it’s due; and it seems like that time is near.
And if you’re interested, here’s another clip from the summit below!