Get ready: Beats Music is not only on-track for an early-2014 release, but there’s a decent chance this won’t be a spectacular dud. According to several industry executives who have been treated to early previews of the service, Beats is preparing a well-curated, human-driven service, one that challenges the cookie-cutter, pervasive, robot-driven recommendations that permeate the current streaming space (and are typically powered by one company, The Echo Nest).
“There’s a sea of music, there’s an ocean of music out there, and there’s absolutely no curation for it.”
Jimmy Iovine, February, 2013.
Which is exactly how Beats and its progenitor, Jimmy Iovine, have been envisioning this thing from the beginning. Indeed, Beats will be a highly-curated, celebrity-driven, marketing-heavy approach could create serious problems for Spotify, iTunes, Deezer, and YouTube Music. “It’s really good, actually, it’s damn good” one executive with a preview shared with Digital Music News. “These are good recommendations that sort of say, ‘there’s someone home’. I think it’ll do well.”
Design and layout on the new service is also reportedly strong. “It’s better than Spotify,” another exec simply stated.
“I think it’s easier to use, and more fun.”
But timing isn’t on Beats’ side. Beats famously created the high-priced headphone space by getting in front of the market, and pushing their high-fidelity concept with endless celebrity and marketing blasts. But when it comes to the streaming companion, Beats CEO Ian Rogers has been cooking this bird forever: originally, Beats called for a summer 2013 release, which slid to the fall, and then to 2014. In that time, Spotify has been stretching its lead, iTunes has unveiled Radio, and Deezer has coordinated its troops for a US invasion.
There’s also the issue of Topspin, the once hyped-to-hell company that Beats CEO Ian Topspin abruptly ditched for the flashier company of Iovine, Dr. Dre, and Trent Reznor. Beats Music will apparently have a Topspin integration for artists, despite a major profile drop post-Rogers, the departure of SVP Bob Moczydlowsky, restlessness among Topspin investors, and a dramatically better performance and traction by rival Bandcamp.
Then, there’s the giant elephant that is about to enter the room (and that everyone is talking about): YouTube Music. Earlier intelligence suggested a pre-Christmas release for YouTube Music (which obviously didn’t happen), though the biggest music service in the world is likely to drop its latest bomb in Q1 of next year. Which means, Beats will be elbowing for room alongside a space that not only includes Spotify, iTunes, Deezer, and YouTube Music, but Rhapsody, Muve Music, Rdio, Google Play Music All Access, Xbox Music, and a growing class of artist-specific services (whether deadmau5 or Beyonce).
(Digital Music News has not been shown pre-release versions, possibly because of a fairly rocky relationship with Beats Music CEO Ian Rogers. But let’s see…)
Written while listening to CHVRCHES on Rdio.