Not Only Is Jimmy Iovine Staying At Apple, He’s Dropping Hints About Streaming’s Inevitable Future

Contributing Writer

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Interscope Records founder Jimmy Iovine did more than just show up at the Golden State Warriors practice on Tuesday, he also came forward to refute a rumor that had flipped the industry upside its head for a few days. HitsDailyDouble and Billboard reported last week that Iovine was leaving Apple Music in August, but now the 65-year-old tells Variety those claims are false. “There’s still a lot more we’d like to do,” Iovine said of his partnership with Apple. “I am committed to doing whatever Eddy [Cue], Tim [Cook] and Apple need me to do, to help wherever and however I can, to take this all the way. I am in the band.”

Iovine did reveal that some of the Apple stock that he acquired in the Beats Music sale to Apple does indeed vest in August, but that has no bearing on his status within the company. “There is a tiny portion of stock that vests in August, but that’s not what I think about,” Iovine said. “My contract is up in August, but the funny thing is, I don’t have a contract. I have a deal, and certain things happen along that deal. The bottom line is I’m loyal to the guys at Apple. I love Apple, and I really love musicians. That’s why those articles annoyed me, because it had nothing to do with reality. It made it out to be all about money.”

But, while Iovine’s job status with Apple is intriguing, what he revealed at a screening of The Defiant Ones at the Grammy Museum this week was far more interesting. There, Iovine let loose a few tidbits about Apple Music’s strategy going forward, and confirmed what many industry insiders have long assumed: Apple is looking to form a sort of hybrid record label.

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Discussing streaming services and their effect on the music industry, Iovine said:

“The record industry right now is expecting technology to fix their problems, like they always have, and I’m not sure technology is going to fix their problems this time. It will make music better, it will make it sound better, and improve access and delivery, but I’m not sure that benefits the labels unless the labels do something to make the proposition more interesting. Everybody’s talking about the great oil gusher, but it’s not going to scale unless streaming gets more interesting.”

From there, Iovine went on to hint that Apple would be considering putting together “original content” similar to Netflix, essentially saying Apple could be acquiring original music and distributing it solely on their platform much like Netflix has with their original movies and TV series in recent years. “Netflix has a unique catalog, because they don’t buy HBO and they have their own catalog,” Iovine said. “Then on top of that they have a little thing called $6 billion in original content. HBO has $3 billion, Amazon probably has $4 billion. Well, guess how much original content streaming has: Zero! Fundamentally. All the catalogs are exactly the same.”

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