Executives talk Apple Music successes and failures

After the launch of iOS 10 and a revamp of the Apple Music interface, Jimmy Iovine, Zane Lowe, and head of global consumer marketing for Apple Music and iTunes Bozoma Saint John sat down with Buzzfeed to take stock of where the company’s streaming music service has been and where it’s going. Along with a cleaner, simpler user interface, the updated Apple Music adds two new playlist options: My Favorites Mix and My New Music Mix. Where the service initially banked exclusively on human curation of playlists, the My Favorites Mix is generated by an algorithm that uses deep historical knowledge of a user’s tastes and listening habits, culled from years of data brought over from iTunes. Songs given high ratings and ones that are played frequently appear on that mix, while the My New Music Mix algorithm uses that profile to serve up recently released songs that music experts think compliment those tracks users already like. “We were too ambitious in the beginning — we probably put too much into it,” Iovine said of the former focus on 100 percent human-curated playlists. “But we’re getting there now, one foot in front of the other, and the stuff we’re creating I don’t think anyone is gonna see coming.”
The group also discussed artist exclusives, which have been a mixed blessing for the service. While Drake just launched a new Apple Music-exclusive video and became the first artist to reach 1 billion streams on the service due to his special deal with Apple, netting other exclusives has cost the company dearly. After coaxing Frank Ocean into a lucrative deal that let the superstar go independent from Universal Music Group, Apple was informed that UMG would no longer be offering exclusives. Fans have also complained about the company locking down artists, claiming it forces them to either pivot between services to listen to their favorite artists, wait for weeks to hear new music or turn to illegal downloading. Iovine said he’s not looking to encroach on a record label’s territory, but added that as the industry rapidly evolves, people may end up paying for multiple music streaming services like they do for Netflix and Hulu. “We’re feeling our way around and seeing what works … Every time we do [an exclusive], we learn something new,” Iovine said.


Dan Pye was a news editor at iLounge. He's been involved with technology his whole life, and started writing about it in 2009. He's written about everything from iPhone and iPad cases to Apple TV accessories.