Big Music Labels Want to Stop Free Digital Music, Apple Wants to Help


According to a report by Re/Code, Apple executives are trying to convince all the big music labels that it can help them change the fact how easy it is for anyone to stream any song, anywhere these days, completely legally without paying a penny. The company wants to roll back the tide of free digital music by relaunching its own subscription streaming service this year, which unlike Spotify or YouTube, won’t offer a free, ad-supported tier of music streaming.

Apple Beats

The source claims that Apple’s media head Eddy Cue and Beats Music founder Jimmy Iovine have been arguing that the music business “needs to get behind a paywall”. Having bought Beats last year, Apple is now negotiating with the music labels for licenses for a revamped version of Beats. It is believed that Apple wants to “make a splash by getting high-profile artists” to distribute their music with Apple before it makes its way to any other music service. At the same time, the company wants to bring down the $10-a-month subscription price to somewhere around $8 per month.

Apple’s anti-free pitch syncs up with public and private comments from top executives at the big music labels in recent months. In November, Sony Music’s CFO told reporters the company was rethinking its support for free streaming music; in December, Warner Music Group CEO Stephen Cooper said that free music services need to convert more users to paying subscribers. 

Universal Music Group CEO Lucian Grainge, who runs the world’s biggest music label, has also been the most vocal about getting the industry to focus on paid services instead of free ones. “We want to accelerate paid subscription,” Grainge said at the Code/Media conference last month.

Yesterday, it was reported that Apple’s planned Beats-based music streaming service won’t be debuting till Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in early June.


  • Chrome262

    LOL silly music industry, there is a reason you are failing. Its a bit late for this, if early on they did it, then I can see it working. Besides its all rumor, I was assuming it would be added to music match subscriptions and offered as an incentive to match, like radio is.

  • hub2

    And this, *this* is what I was dreading with the wasteful, multi-billion dollar purchase of Beats, especially since smart money said they bought it for the service and catalogue, not the hardware.

    By trying to make actual profit from music (as opposed to “breaking even” like they supposedly were with iTunes Music Store), they’ve become part of the backwards music industry they (with Steve Jobs at the helm) were fighting against on consumers’ behalf just a decade ago.

  • 45rpms

    I work for an independent record label and the owner and staff would argue that the music industry is definitely not failing, but rather just changing ever so slightly, as it has been ever since home-recordable media (tape) became inexpensive enough for mainstream listeners. Cassette tapes were the first music industry “killer”, then CD Rs, then…

  • Chrome262

    Self publishing, and small labels maybe the way to go, (even see it in the book industry now) but when others: sony, universal etc, are cutting staff and selling collections as well as posting quarter after quarter of losses I would think that the big machine is failing. The old model of separate publishing, distribution, and record company is not working and was always resistant to change. When they finally embrace change its always late, and with a gun to its head, and trying to look for any angle to squeeze out profits.