Apple Inc in talks to sign Drake, David Guetta as guest DJs for iTunes radio
Apple Taps Drake for iTunes Radio DJ Spot.
With its dominant position in music threatened by a decline in download sales, Apple is preparing to launch a direct rival to Spotify and other popular services that let users stream songs instead of buy them. Apple may be just days away from showing off its new Spotify competitor — and it almost certainly spells the end of the Beats service Apple purchased for $3 billion last year.
Apple is getting ready to announce its answer to Spotify at its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco next week, according to a Wall Street Journal report.At WWDC next week, Apple will finally unveil its new music service, a revamped version of Beats Music, combining a $10-a-month on-demand streaming subscription with a bevy of free, ad-supported radio stations curated by celebrity DJs. The tech giant is betting that for the second time in as many decades it can persuade millions of people around the world to change how they listen to and pay for music. Much like its competitor, Apple’s service will be priced $10 a month for unlimited streaming; however, it looks like there won’t be any ad-supported on-demand tier. In 2003, the company’s iTunes Music Store made downloading individual songs the most common way for people to buy music — and made iTunes the biggest music retailer on the planet.
Music-industry executives see Apple’s launch, expected to be announced at its developers’ conference next week, as a watershed moment for streaming music that could move the technology from early adopters to the mainstream. Citing “people familiar with the talks,” the report claims Apple has been “rushing” to make the service ready and finalize licensing deals with labels. Apple is thought to be basing its business partially on its Beats acquisition, though the company will apparently continue to offer Beats Music after launching its new streaming music service (which will probably carry iTunes or other Apple-specific branding) for at least a little while to ease the transition. Three of the biggest labels — Sony, Warner Music and Universal Music — have yet to sign off on the service, which could potentially delay the announcement. The Journal notes that Apple hasn’t finalized deals for its subscription service with the major record labels, so there is a chance that an announcement may be postponed until the ink on those deals is dry.
Data compiled by Nielsen SoundScan showed that in 2014, download sales revenue fell by 8 percent ($3.6 billion), while streaming service revenue surged by 45 percent ($1.6 billion). Some tracks could be offered free, per the WSJ, which also says Apple will introduce it in a software update for iOS, and via a standalone offering for Google’s Android mobile platform as well. Apple sells an estimated 80 per cent to 85 per cent of music downloads worldwide, according to people in the music industry, but it has a fraction of the streaming business — the only mode of music consumption that is on the upswing globally. Drake, who released the mixtape If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late in February, has frequently been in music-news headlines in the last few months, ever since he made a sour face after Madonna made out with him during a performance at Coachella. “Don’t misinterpret my shock!!” Drake later wrote on Instagram. “I got to make out with the queen Madonna and I feel 100 about that forever.” The rapper has also announced that he would be appearing at Landmark Music Festival in Washington, D.C. and at the Austin City Limits Festival in Austin the following month. More recently, he took part in a charity softball game in Houston over Memorial Day weekend. 2015 may not bring everything that Back to the Future II promised it would: flying cars, self-lacing shoes, we don’t see ’em happening over the next 12 months. (Then again, don’t bet against Nike.) But this year will definitely pack plenty of punch when it comes to cultural happenings.
Apple could possibly promote its revamped Beats Music with a free trial, and it will allow record labels to make select songs available for free listening—much like YouTube and Soundcloud do now—to help launch new artists or tease upcoming albums. Rather than provide ad-supported access to on-demand streaming, the company plans to beef up iTunes Radio with new Pandora-like stations and a lineup of original programming. Mad Max will roar back out of the apocalypse while Mad Men rides off into the sunset, rock’s Antichrist Superstar and hip-hop’s Yeezus will rise again.
Apple’s service, at $10 per month, would compete on equal footing in terms of cost with rivals including Spotify and Rdio, but it sounds like a wide selection of human-hosted content could also make it a formidable rival to something like satellite or traditional terrestrial radio, which, in addition to select free content, might help attract a larger audience. This wouldn’t be the first time Apple has partnered with celebs on new music experiences — iTunes Radio rolled out celebrity-curated playlists from guest DJs like Katy Perry and Jared Leto in 2013.
After months of escalating protests and grassroots organizing in response to the police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, police reformers have issued many demands. It has also proven adept at expanding its media offerings internationally – or at least more adept than major rivals including Google and Amazon in that regard. The moderates in this debate typically qualify their rhetoric with “We all know we need police, but…” It’s a familiar refrain to those of us who’ve spent years in the streets and the barrios organizing around police violence, only to be confronted by officers who snarl, “But who’ll help you if you get robbed?” We can put a man on the moon, but we’re still lacking creativity down here on Earth. Apple’s push may include prompting people who download a $US10 album to instead subscribe to the streaming service for $US10 a month, those people said. Apple’s monthly streaming service would increase that annual spend to $120 per consumer, even higher than it was during peak CD sales, but the model requires a larger userbase.
While law enforcers have existed in one form or another for centuries, the modern police have their roots in the relatively recent rise of modern property relations 200 years ago, and the “disorderly conduct” of the urban poor. As for Beats, current subscribers won’t see immediate changes as Apple plans to leave the service alone while it fine tunes the new streaming platform. Like every structure we’ve known all our lives, it seems that the policing paradigm is inescapable and everlasting, and the only thing keeping us from the precipice of a dystopic Wild West scenario. Rather than be scared of our impending Road Warrior future, check out just a few of the practicable, real-world alternatives to the modern system known as policing: Unarmed but trained people, often formerly violent offenders themselves, patrolling their neighborhoods to curb violence right where it starts. Although neither party seems to be breaking a sweat. “If any company can pull it off, they can,” one music industry source told Billboard, when news of the stalled negotiations first came to light last month.
Stop believing that police are heroes because they are the only ones willing to get in the way of knives or guns – so are the members of groups like Cure Violence, who were the subject of the 2012 documentary The Interrupters. Of the 110 million people who bought music on the iTunes Store last year, the average customer spent a little more than $US30 over a 12-month period, according to music-industry estimates. There are also feminist models that specifically organize patrols of local women, who reduce everything from cat-calling and partner violence to gang murders in places like Brooklyn. Persuading a significant share of those buyers to switch to a product that costs $US120 a year will be a challenge, but would be lucrative for Apple and the record companies. While police forces have benefited from military-grade weapons and equipment, some of the most violent neighborhoods have found success through peace rather than war.
Decriminalization doesn’t work on its own: The cannabis trade that used to employ poor Blacks, Latinos, indigenous and poor whites in its distribution is now starting to be monopolized by already-rich landowners. To quote investigative journalist Christian Parenti’s remarks on criminal justice reform in his book Lockdown America, what we really need most of all is “less.” Also known as reparative or transformative justice, these models represent an alternative to courts and jails.
From hippie communes to the IRA and anti-Apartheid South African guerrillas to even some U.S. cities like Philadelphia’s experiment with community courts, spaces are created where accountability is understood as a community issue and the entire community, along with the so-called perpetrator and the victim of a given offense, try to restore and even transform everyone in the process. The deal got Apple the flashy Beats headphones, the fledgling Beats Music service, and the music-industry connections of the company’s co-founder, producer-turned-executive Jimmy Iovine. On-demand services like Spotify and Beats let users listen to any song or album they choose — as if they had an iTunes library with tens of millions of songs. Communities that have tools to engage with each other about problems and disputes don’t have to consider what to do after anti-social behaviors are exhibited in the first place. Beats remains a small player, with around 303,000 paying subscribers as of December 2014, all of them in the US, according to data provided to music publishers.
The company isn’t expected to immediately move current Beats Music subscribers onto the new service, instead keeping Beats up and running while it works out any kinks in the new service before eventually migrating Beats users onto it. In Mexico, where one of the world’s most corrupt police forces only has credibility as a criminal syndicate, there have been armed groups of Policia Comunitaria and Autodefensas organized by local residents for self-defense from narcotraffickers, femicide and police.
Spotify reported more than $US1 billion in revenue last year and said it ended the year with 15 million paying subscribers, plus around 45 million free users. Obviously these could become police themselves and then be subject to the same abuses, but as a temporary solution they have been making a real impact. In New York, Rikers Island jails as many people with mental illnesses “as all 24 psychiatric hospitals in New York State combined,” which is reportedly 40% of the people jailed at Rikers.
We have created a tremendous amount of mental illness, and in the real debt and austerity dystopia we’re living in, we have refused to treat each other for our physical and mental wounds. Mental health has often been a trapdoor for other forms of institutionalized social control as bad as any prison, but shifting toward preventative, supportive and independent living care can help keep those most impacted from ending up in handcuffs or dead on the street. The new Apple radio push is aimed mainly at users outside the US, who don’t have access to Pandora and could eventually be converted to paying subscribers. Beyond Pandora, the programmed channels also would compete with Sirius XM Radio Inc., which beams hundreds of programmed channels to its users by satellite.
Even traditional, over-the-air radio broadcasters may be in Apple’s sights: Most “terrestrial” stations also make their broadcasts available on the internet, where they are fairly popular — and where Apple’s new service could be a competitor.
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