Billboard yesterday published a wide-ranging interview with Apple executive and music industry mogul Jimmy Iovine, who dropped hints of Apple Music’s “hybrid” future. He also discussed the difference between the engineer culture in Silicon Valley and the creative culture in Hollywood and underscored the importance of technology in popular culture and other tidbits. Here are some choice quotes from that interview.
“The people from popular culture had to understand how to talk to engineers,” said Iovine. “It isn’t just them talking to record people. The engineer culture doesn’t understand what you’re talking about, doesn’t take you serious and writes you off.”
Apple is not in the record business, he underscored.
We are an adjunct to labels and artists. We are building something that can help labels and artists and undiscovered artists. Yeah, it’s a popular culture company, but it’s also a tool. And that’s what we’re building. We’re not in the record business.
On “hybrid” Apple Music future:
What we’re going to do, what we’re doing now that hasn’t been revealed yet, is we’re building the right hybrid. And we believe it’s the right hybrid, and the combination of these things together, we’ll build a music service that is technologically and culturally adept.
We’re going to do whatever we believe is great. We are going to make a combination of tech and popular culture that is exciting and adept at both areas. So that’s what you’re starting to see.
It’s going to have a voice. It’s not going to be just a utility — “Go here and get your music, good luck,” or, “We’re going to send you a list” — that’s great, but that’s not what this is. That’s not what this was, anyway.
Apple Music launched seventeen months ago and now has seventeen million paid subscribers, a little more than half of Spotify’s 30 million paid accounts.
Iovine, who is 63 years old, has made a career in the music industry as a versatile producer, engineer, label executive and co-founder of Interscope Records.
In 2014, he founded Beats Electronics and Beats Music with his friend, Dr. Dre.
Iovine reflected on starting the company:
I met Steve Jobs and Eddy Cue in 2003. I realized, okay, the future of music is going to be intertwined with distribution through technology companies. It just looked like that to me, and I realized how far behind I personally was.
So I set out to really understand. So I worked with those guys for about two years, and I said to Steve, “I’d like to do headphones with Apple with [Dr.] Dre,” about two or three years later. He said, “Do it yourself, you can do it.” So I tried it myself.
So I built a tech company. And we built this whole company and we needed certain types of individuals for the kind of company we wanted to build. We wanted to build a tech company that had a big presence in popular culture, which was what Apple had, but no one claims to be Steve Jobs.
But we wanted to have that understanding. So one of the first things I did was to hire Luke Wood, because he understood both languages. Because language is tricky.
He was referring to Beats President Luke Wood, who now works on Apple Music alongside Trent Rezonr, Larry Jackson and others. Iovine says Treznor was “really, truly involved” on every level of Apple Music’s redesign on iOS 10.
It took a decade to develop the current Apple Music team, he said.
According to the interview, Apple had to bring over 250 people from popular culture and the media business to help push its music streaming service.
After the Cupertino firm acquired Beats in a deal worth $3 billion, Iovine, Dr. Dre and key Beats managers have become Apple executives.
Jimmy Iovine photograph courtesy AllThingsD.