Speaking to The Guardian, Apple has admitted that it still has “homework to be done” on the Apple Music service. Oliver Schusser, the vice president of iTunes International, told the Guardian that a lot of work is still being put into improving the service, with “teams all around the world” focusing on editorial and playlists, but also adding features and “cleaning up certain things.” When asked about usability criticisms that have been levied against the service, Schusser reiterated that the service remains a priority for Apple, noting that it was a very big launch and they’re getting a “ton of feedback” but are “obviously trying to make it better every day.” Schusser also confirmed that Apple remains on track to launch Apple Music for Android devices and Sonos players this fall.
Schusser also stated that the download business has been “really, really healthy,” and iTunes continues to be a big part of Apple’s business on which they are still focused, as well. Dr. Dre’s recent release of “Compton: A Soundtrack Album” was streamed 25 million times in its first week, however, it still sold nearly 500,000 iTunes downloads in the same time frame. Schusser holds up Compton as a “really good example of how streaming and downloads can be successful side-by-side,” stated that they’ve proven “when there’s great content, customers will buy as well as listen.”
Apple has released iOS 8.4.1 and iTunes 12.2.2, a pair of relatively minor updates that add fixes and enhancements mostly related to Apple’s Music and Beats 1 Radio services. iOS 8.4.1 notes fixes related to iCloud Music Library, adding songs to playlists, displaying album artwork, and resolves issues experienced by artists posting to Connect. iTunes 12.2.2 fixes a number of display and sorting problems related to Apple Music, and adds the ability to view a list of followed artists and see a schedule of upcoming Beats 1 programming. The iTunes update also allows artists using the Connect service to now post new content directly from within the iTunes app.
Dr. Dre shocked fans on Saturday, announcing during his Beats 1 show “The Pharmacy” that his new — and reportedly final — album will be released exclusively on iTunes and Apple Music this Friday, August 7. The rap icon said he secretly recorded the album after being inspired during the filming of the upcoming N.W.A. biopic “Straight Outta Compton.” “I was leaving the set, coming to the studio, and I felt myself just being so inspired by the movie that I started recording an album,” Dre said during the show. “And I kept it under wraps. And the album is finished.” The album, titled “Compton: A Soundtrack,” is available for pre-order on iTunes and features appearances by Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, Eminem and Kendrick Lamar. This is the first album released by the rapper since 1999’s “2001,” and during the Beats 1 show Dre addressed why he never released the much-anticipated album “Detox,” saying simply that it “just wasn’t good” and it wouldn’t have been fair to release it to his fans. He is clearly more excited about his upcoming offering, saying, “All my friends came in and we all came together to build this thing. It’s going to be my grand finale.” [via Billboard]
Apple has released a minor update to iTunes, as iTunes 12.2.1 addresses a few issues found within iTunes Match and Apple Music. One of those iTunes Match issues found iTunes incorrectly labeling some Match songs as Apple Music songs. The update also “provides a way to correct a library problem affecting former iTunes Match subscribers.” Minor tweaks for Beats 1 are also included in the update. iTunes 12.2.1 is now available in the Mac App Store.
A federal judge has thrown out a $532.9 million award against Apple and ordered a new trial to determine damages in a patent infringement case, Reuters reports. In February, a jury found Apple guilty of improperly incorporating three patents owned by Smartflash into its iTunes software, but the judge was concerned his instructions on how to calculate damages may have confused the jurors and substantially inflated the award. The new trial to set damages is set for September 14. A second lawsuit between Smartflash and Apple over the same patents is still ongoing.
A week after Apple quietly dropped the popular Home Sharing feature from the Music app in iOS 8.4, Senior VP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue has promised the company is “working to have Home Sharing in iOS 9.” In a tweet, Cue confirmed that Apple is trying to bring back the missing feature, which allows an iOS device to stream music from a computer running iTunes on a local Wi-Fi network. With Home Sharing going missing just as Apple Music debuted, some have speculated that the feature was removed because it competed with the new streaming service and the company’s paid iTunes Match and iCloud Music Library options. Home Sharing is still available in the Videos app, and other than Cue’s tweet, Apple hasn’t hasn’t commented on the change.
Apple released iTunes 12.2 a bit later than usual on Tuesday, but as expected, the new release brings Apple Music to the Mac. iTunes 12.2 includes full Apple Music support, including Beats 1 and Apple Music Radio. The newest edition of iTunes can be downloaded on Apple’s iTunes website or through the Mac App Store.
Subscribing to Apple Music will allow users to add music and video from the Apple Music library to their collection for offline playback, Re/code reports — the feature is also noted on Apple Music’s Membership page. Apple is also maintaining the support Beats Music had for non-Apple devices, with Windows PC support available for the June 30 launch and Android support due this fall. But the Apple Music streaming library doesn’t include everything in iTunes, as some have been reporting. According to Bloomberg, negotiations are still underway to add notable holdouts, like The Beatles.
A source familiar with Apple’s plans said the company is aiming to sign up 100 million subscribers for its Apple Music service, dwarfing all existing streaming music services combined, the Associated Press reports. Users of Beats Music will be migrated over before that service is shut down, and those purchasing songs or albums on iTunes will begin receiving an offer to subscribe to the $10/month streaming service instead. Apple will be flooding the online music scene to rack up those numbers, providing a three-month free trial of the paid service alongside a slew of guest DJs drawing users to its free iTunes Radio offering, including Pharrell Williams, Drake, Muse and David Guetta.
During an interview at the Midem music and technology festival, Sony Music CEO Doug Morris emphasized Apple’s unique position to dominate and revolutionize the streaming music market, Venture Beat notes. “What does Apple bring to this?” Morris said. “Well, they’ve got $178 billion dollars in the bank. And they have 800 million credit cards in iTunes. Spotify has never really advertised because it’s never been profitable. My guess is that Apple will promote this like crazy and I think that will have a halo effect on the streaming business.”
Mere days before Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) where the company is expected to announce a new streaming music service, Apple remains in negotiations with record labels, Bloomberg reports. Labels are reportedly pushing for a larger portion of revenue from Apple than they are currently getting from their deals with rival service Spotify, according to people familiar with the negotiations. Both sides are said to want to complete a deal prior to WWDC on Monday, and the talks are actively continuing to that end. The labels are apparently using the talks with Apple to set a benchmark for negotiations with other services. Currently, the labels take 55 percent of Spotify’s monthly fees, and publishers take an additional 15 percent; the labels are said to be pushing for closer to 60 percent from Apple.
A new report from The Wall Street Journal has confirmed that Apple will indeed unveil its new Apple Music service at next week’s Worldwide Developers Conference. The report also confirms most of the details that have previously been reported about the new service, including that Apple will not only be unveiling a $10/month streaming music service to compete with Spotify, but also plans to update iTunes Radio with channels that are programmed and hosted by human DJs. While these details have been making the rounds for some time, it was previously unclear whether Apple would have the necessary licensing agreements in place in time for an early June unveiling of the service.
Apple is rumored to be working on a $19 million deal to add rapper Drake as a guest DJ for iTunes Radio, according to the New York Post. DJ David Guetta and Pharrell Williams — who sported his Apple Watch last month on “The Voice” — are also in talks to get on board as faces of Apple’s upcoming entry into the streaming music business, according to music industry sources. Reliance on artist involvement and star power to promote the new service is consistent with previous rumors that “Apple Music” will provide fans with track samples, photos, videos, and concert updates on artist-curated social networking pages.
Apple’s new Beats-based streaming music service, expected to be named “Apple Music”, will feature Ping-like social network pages for artists, 9to5Mac reports. While the network won’t extend to users of the service, artists will be able to setup their own pages that can be used to post information such as track samples, photos, videos, and concert updates. Artists will also be able to cross-promote by sharing content from other artists on their own pages, and users will be able to comment on and like content on artist pages, but will not be able to create or post their own content.
It appears the feature will be referred to as “Artist Activity” and can be disabled in Restrictions, as evidenced by a new setting found in the latest iOS 8.4 beta. The feature is expected to be available across the iOS, Android, and Mac versions of Apple Music, although it remains unclear whether it will also come to the Apple TV.
Apple is apparently looking at options to provide limited free listening options for users of its new streaming music service, Re/Code reports. While Apple still doesn’t intend to offer a free tier, the new report suggests that some limited listening options will be available, designed to push users toward the paid streaming model. Industry sources have suggested that Apple is considering offering free trial periods of one to three months and a feature that will allow labels to provide a sampling of songs that users can listen to. Sources also note that Apple intends to not only continue offering its free, ad-supported iTunes Radio service, but is expected to be working to enhance it, having acquired new talent expressly for this purpose.
A civil suit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court accuses Apple of violating five OpenTV streaming video patents, Re/code reports. OpenTV is requesting unspecific damages for patents it says Apple used illegally in iTunes software for securely downloading or streaming rented movies. OpenTV technology powers on-demand video services and digital video recorders and has been licensed by other giants in the streaming video business, such as Google and Disney, according to the suit. Apple couldn’t be reached for comment.
Apple is missing some key music licensing deals for its upcoming streaming service, according to a new report from Billboard. While several reports have suggested that the company has been targeting June’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) to debut the new service, industry sources have told Billboard that as of now Apple doesn’t have the necessary licensing deals in place as of yet. While at least one source notes that a June launch might be “still attainable” due to Apple’s past track record of quickly securing licensing deals, another major label source is cited as suggesting that the launch “isn’t coming soon” as “the deals aren’t done” and there isn’t enough time to make it happen.
Apple has approached more than a dozen artists to attempt to negotiate exclusivity deals for its upcoming streaming music service, Bloomberg reports, with the goal of encouraging users to pay for a subscription in order to gain access to content that would be unavailable through competing services. The list of artists, which includes Taylor Swift and Florence and the Machine, among others, have been in discussions with Apple about deals ranging from limited streaming rights to individual new tracks to closer overall partnerships with the new service. Music label executives and artists alike have been pushing back in recent months toward free-tiered streaming services such as Spotify, with Taylor Swift notably pulling her entire catalog from that service after it refused to restrict her latest album to only its paying customers. Apple’s new subscription service is expected to be available in a paid tier only, priced at $10 per month for individual users, and a previously unrevealed “family plan” that would be priced at $15, although it is unclear how many users would constitute a “family.”
Apple has released iTunes 12.1.2, a relatively minor update that adds support for syncing photos to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch from the new Photos app for OS X, released earlier this week as part of the OS X 10.10.3 update. The release notes also note “several refinements to the Get Info window” and general stability improvements. iTunes 12.1.2 is available through the standard software update mechanism, or for direct download at iTunes.com.
The New York Times has a report today that provides some additional insight into Apple’s plans for the upcoming streaming music service that the company is rumored to be developing with its Beats division. Being billed as a service that is expected to rival Spotify, the new subscription offering has Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails fame overseeing the redesign of the iOS Music app to accommodate the new services. The report also notes that Apple is planning improvements to iTunes Radio to focus more on regional listeners, and “splashy new albums” that will be released initially as iTunes exclusives. Former BBC Radio DJ Zane Lowe has apparently been hired by Apple to play a role in redesigning iTunes Radio to “bear some resemblance to a traditional radio station.”
The report also confirms that Apple’s new service will not come in at a lower price than competing services. Several music executives told the New York Times that Apple’s attempts to negotiate lower pricing from record labels have failed, suggesting that Apple’s service will likely be priced at the $10/month level that has pretty much become standard across all streaming music services. Unlike services such as Spotify, however, Apple’s new service is not expected to have a free version, a decision that music executives are reported to be particularly happy about.
Apple has backed down from an effort to lower the subscription price of its upcoming music service, Billboard reports. It appears Apple will have no choice but to stick with the standard $10/month price used by other similar services, with the report noting Apple would have to absorb any losses from setting a lower price. The company was aiming for an $8/month subscription price, and an earlier report even claimed Apple had discussed a $5/month price with record labels.
Apple is still negotiating with labels and artists, and very little is known about what the final version of the service will look like, though it’s “widely believed” Apple will replace the Beats Music name with its iTunes brand. While Apple is still reportedly pursuing exclusive releases for its service, industry sources are skeptical that the company will be able to outmaneuver competitors for such exclusives. “Apple is one of the biggest companies in the world. If they want exclusive content, they’re going to have to get out the checkbook,” one source told Billboard.