Apple Music executives Jimmy Iovine, Bozoma Saint John and DJ Zane Lowe recently sat down with BuzzFeed’s Reggie Ugwu for a rather interesting interview regarding the streaming music service. The conversation covers everything from the controversy surrounding Apple’s push for artist exclusives to their plans for the future, and we’ve listed our favorite experts below.
On the conflict service exclusives are causing in the music industry:
The clash over exclusives, which came to a head just weeks before Apple Music underwent a much-anticipated relaunch designed to make it more appealing to users, served as a reminder that the music service faces a war on two fronts: It’s vying to lure subscribers from a field of strong competitors on the one hand, while defending its aggressive plans to skittish content owners on the other.
“We put a lot into this, we’ve had some real successes, and we always hold up our end of the relationship,” Iovine said, insisting that he has no intention of encroaching on record labels’ territory. “We’re feeling our way around and seeing what works … Every time we do [an exclusive], we learn something new.” He added that Apple Music would move forward with its pursuit of exclusives from other partners, such as Sony Music Entertainment and the Warner Music Group, noting, “It’s Apple’s show. As long as Apple’s asking me to do what I’m doing, I’m gonna keep doing it.”
On how Beats 1 appeals to artists:
“I think Apple Music is the place that helps artists tell their stories,” said Zane Lowe, who presides over Apple Music’s radio station Beats 1. Lady Gaga, in an interview with Lowe, recently used the station to announce the title of her forthcoming comeback album, Joanne. And Drake, who is among a growing roster of paid contributors to Apple Music and has his own Beats 1 show, used it to premiere “Hotline Bling.” “It’s where artists can come and feel comfortable,” Lowe said.
And on Apple Music’s new playlist algorithm:
The other big change is the addition of two new personalized playlists: My Favorites Mix and My New Music Mix. The playlists are generated by algorithms, a first for the service, which has largely relied on human curation for its playlists up to this point. Revealing how the mixes operate for the first time to BuzzFeed News, Apple claimed a potential advantage over similar algorithmically personalized playlists, including Spotify’s Discover Weekly and Pandora’s Thumbprint Radio: deep historical knowledge of individual users’ tastes and habits, based on years of data carried over from iTunes.
If you gave high ratings to a song or album in your old iTunes library, or just played it a lot more than others, you’ll find that behavior reflected in your My Favorites Mix. Meanwhile, the My New Music Mix algorithm serves recently released songs — as well as songs that Apple Music knows you haven’t played before — that the service’s music experts have flagged as similar to others in your taste profile.
Iovine wraps up the interview by admitting that Apple Music was “too ambitious in the beginning,” but he thinks it’s getting there now, one step at a time. “And the stuff we’re creating I don’t think anyone is gonna see coming.”
There’s a little more in this piece than your typical PR article, and it offers some real insight into how Apple is looking at its streaming service maybe a bit differently than it originally did. The entire thing is of course worth reading.