Opening their doors this Wednesday morning, Apple Stores across the US will be stocking a new pair of wireless earphones named i.am+ Buttons, conceived by musician and part-time tech enthusiast Will.i.am. The full product name of the earphones is i.am+ Buttons and they will reportedly be offered in four colors, matching Apple’s black, silver, gold and rose gold iPhone range.
While the timing of the i.am+ launch could not have been more savory with the AirPods suffering heavy delays, it remains to be seen if will.i.am’s product will be able to capitalize on the door left wide open by Apple. Until now, most i.am+ products have largely been frowned upon for putting fashion center stage. They also come at a hefty $229 price point.
Ian Rogers, former Beats Music CEO and Apple Music’s Senior Director, has unexpectedly left Apple less than two months following the launch of Apple’s music-streaming service, according to The Financial Times newspaper on Friday.
The executive is credited with crafting Beats 1 Radio, Apple’s free of charge 24/7 Internet radio available in more than a hundred countries, and shaping its playlists. He was also instrumental in hiring away Beats 1 DJ Zane Lowe from his post at BBC Radio 1.
Shortly after releasing iOS 8.4 for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad and OS X 10.10.4 for the Mac, Apple refreshed the mobile Beats Music application in the App Store so you can transfer your existing playlists and library over to Apple Music. Release notes accompanying the update make no mention of other changes beyond playlist migration.
The app is available at no charge in the App Store.
Apple’s upcoming streaming music service will offer a lengthy free trial period to new users, according to the Financial Times. Citing sources familiar with the company’s plans, the outlet says that ‘Apple Music’ will be free for the first 3 months.
Apple hopes the extended trial period will give users plenty of time to immerse themselves in the service, making it harder to cancel. For comparison, Spotify currently offers a 30-day free trial, and Rdio’s Unlimited trial period lasts just 2 days.
Russia is going to be among the first countries where Apple will launch its revamped Beats Music service, according to Billboard. The publication points to a report from local outlet Vedomosti, who cites several sources claiming that the company is in negotiations with Russian record labels regarding the service.
The fact that Apple is eyeing Russia for an early streaming music launch isn’t alone significant—its slowing economy and struggling ruble have deterred other services like Spotify from entering the countries—but what is interesting is that it sounds like the company is planning on a quick international rollout.
Tucked away in its earnings release on Monday, major music-player Warner Music Group announced that revenue from streaming surpassed revenue from downloads for the first time. This signals a major turn in the industry, as an old school player is finally revealing it may be comfortable, and on board, with the shift in how customers consume music.
Apple’s new music service could include multiple ways to listen for free, Recode reported on Friday. Citing sources familiar with the project, the site says that while the service won’t include a typical ‘free version,’ Apple is hoping to offer a lengthy trial period and free song samples.
The trial period could range anywhere from one to three months, depending on the outcome of Apple’s current negotiations with record labels, which would give users a lengthy look at the service. It may also allow music owners to upload a sampling of songs that others could listen to.
Increasingly, Apple is finding itself in hot water with regulators over its rumored subscription-based music service. Citing people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reported that the United States Federal Trade Commission is now probing Apple’s efforts to line up deals with record labels.
The agency is reportedly taking a closer look at the possible misuse of the iPhone maker’s dominant market position as the largest seller of music downloads to put rival music services such as Spotify, Rdio, Pandora, YouTube and others at a disadvantage.
Apple is really cutting it close if it wants to relaunch Beats Music at its developer conference next month. Citing sources familiar with the company’s plans, Billboard reports that it is still missing a number of key licensing deals it would need to secure to unveil a new streaming music service.
“A June launch is still attainable,” one source tells Billboard. “If any company can do it, they can.” However, another source at a major record label tells the publication that there is no way Apple will be able to pull off a June launch for the new service, saying simply that “the deals aren’t done.”
The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) is reportedly taking a closer look into Apple’s business practices ahead of the rumored Beats Music relaunch, with DOJ officials having already interviewed high-ranking music industry executives about Apple’s business habits, The Verge reported Monday.
Citing multiple sources, the publication claims that Apple’s “aggressive tactics” have garnered scrutiny from DOJ, which has apparently taken issue with Apple’s push to kill free Spotify streaming ahead of Beats relaunch. If true, the cunning move has the potential to reduce competition for Apple’s music service as popular service like YouTube, Pandora, Rdio and others are also the target.
Apple has asked Taylor Swift and more than a dozen other artists for exclusive deals to promote its incoming revamped Beats Music service, reports Bloomberg. The company hopes that such deals, particularly with Swift—who has pulled her music from other services—will help attract new users in the increasingly crowded streaming music space.
The move is similar to that of Tidal, the Jay-Z-owned cloud music service that launched earlier this month, and could be the start of a new trend in the space. Artists have long been fed-up with tech firms like Spotify, Pandora and others who pay them the minimum royalty rate, and seem to finally be ready to take matters into their own hands.