Until Saturday, all we knew about Beats Music is that Jimmy Iovine, Dr. Dre and Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor were behind it, and that it was launching this year. In an article in the New York Times over the weekend, more details have surfaced. The “this year” is now next Tuesday, January 21, and the “how much” is $10/month. What will you get for joining up? Well, for one, you get to buy into the brand. That might not sound that impressive, but then again, neither did $350 headphones six years ago. And another thing that the service is promising is curation. “What song comes next is as important as what song is playing now,” Jimmy Iovine told the Times. While there are plenty of other sites out there, Beats Music chief executive Ian Rogers uses an algorithm as an example of how the other companies are doing it wrong: Paul Simon fan? Check out Art Garfunkel!
So while Beats will also use algorithms, tastemakers like Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and others will be curating playlists. And they’re also taking a clue from Songza with “Right Now,” which is kind of a mad libs for music.From the Times:
a user generates an ad hoc playlist by completing a musical status update with four variables: a place, an activity, a person and a genre of music. “I’m at the beach & feel like pre-partying with my friends to dance-pop,” for example, yields the Chemical Brothers, Lady Gaga and Janet Jackson.
While there’s no free version of Beats Music beyond a 30 day trial period (not to mention, probably a free trial subscription with purchase of Beats headphones), the company has made a deal with AT&T, where they’ll sell a family plan for $15/month for up to five users in addition to the $10/month. Having a deal with a major carrier is more integrated than any of the other streaming services. The question, however, is how much more room there is for another streaming service. Spotify appears to be gaining the most ground. They’ve gotten 2 million paying subscribers in the United States since launching in July of 2011. While Pandora has been around longer, Spotify’s ease of use and ability to combine new music with music you already own has found it winning the battle so far. While iTunes Radio comes on every iPhone with iOS7, it doesn’t really seem to be moving the needle yet, even though it’s free. It’ll really come down to the user interface, ease of use, and curation of the music for Beats to catch on. We haven’t heard anything about specific metal programming yet, and it will be interesting to see how seriously they take the genre. Guess we’ll find out on the 21st.