Sunday 11 December 2016

Apple Music and iTunes boss dismisses rumours it could stop selling music

Published 14/06/2016 | 17:16

Taylor Swift has become one of the faces of the service
Taylor Swift has become one of the faces of the service

The head of Apple Music and iTunes has dismissed the suggestion the technology firm could stop selling music in order to focus on its streaming business.

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Eddy Cue, the man in charge of internet software and services at Apple - including the company's music platform - admitted that bigger growth will come in subscriptions rather than music downloads, but that selling music remains "huge business", and that such rumours were "not true".

His comments came as Apple revealed a major revamp of their Apple Music app, which was showcased during the firm's WWDC conference in San Francisco.

Mr Cue told the Press Association: "The truth of the matter is the iTunes business is not going to grow, subscriptions is what's going to grow. The iTunes business is a huge business and we have millions and millions of people buying music all the time that are very happy buying music.

"Twenty or 50 years from now I don't know what it's going to be, but when you look at the next five years, 10 years around it, there's still going to be a healthy business in that, it's just that all the growth is going to come on the subscription side."

The Apple Music app launched last year as a rival to the likes of Spotify, and has gained around 15 million paying subscribers in its first 12 months. However, the service has come under some scrutiny for being overly complicated to use.

Trent Reznor, the former Nine Inch Nails singer who joined Apple when the firm acquired Beats Electronics in 2014 - where he was working on music streaming - added that the app "didn't get it right first time", but that would change this year.

"For this update, we were focusing on clarity and simplicity throughout," he said.

"And there's a number of improvements that make the overall usability of the app much, much better and much more joyful to use."

All of a user's downloaded music and their library have been moved closer to the front of the app, he explained, part of the increased simplicity that Mr Reznor said makes the app much better to use when on the move. The updated version of the app is due to be released to the public later this year.

Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine, now also a senior member of the Apple Music team, also looked to distance the service from other streaming platforms, suggesting Apple Music's goals were different from that of its rivals.

"We're very different from Spotify," he said.

"This whole thing started about five years ago with me and Trent talking about how to make something right for artists, how to serve an artist so that he can communicate with his fans and get it out where they can earn a living.

"The overall agenda of Tim (Cook, Apple chief executive) and Eddy (Cue) and first Steve (Jobs) was to respect copyright, respect artists and their communication with their fans. I met them 13 years ago - that was the story then and it's still the story today."

Taylor Swift initially withheld her songs from Apple Music, as well as all other, free streaming services, in a dispute over no artist royalties from playbacks being paid during free trial periods.

Following an open letter to Apple the singer joined the service exclusively after Apple agreed to pay-per-stream during trials. Swift has since become one of the faces of the service, along with rapper Drake.

"We're driven by the heart and soul of a true artist, it was very carefully put together and it comes from that point of view, "said Mr Iovine.

"We found the only company in the world that could possibly do it, and that was Apple."

Press Association

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