Apple Music boss Jimmy Iovine unloads on Spotify – watch

"They’re building an audience on the back of the artist.” - Iovine

Apple Music boss Jimmy Iovine has ripped into rivals Spotify in an interview filmed for Vanity Fair, where he appeared alongside HBO CEO Richard Plepler.

Iovine’s thinly-veiled attacks target what he calls the ‘freemium’ model of music streaming. Apple offer a free trial for their service, but there is no access to the service on a permanently free basis.

“We have a problem in the industry, I believe,” he says. “This whole ‘free’ issue. The television industry doesn’t have it, the movie industry doesn’t have it, but the record industry has it.”

“In my personal opinion – this is not Apple’s opinion – free is a real issue,” he continues. “You have to build a service in order to get over ‘free’. This whole thing about ‘freemium’… maybe at one time we needed it, but right now, to me, it’s a shell game. What these companies are doing is building the old-school traffic.”

Iovine goes on to analyze what he believes motivates freemium services:

“They realise Snapchat has 100million people, it’s worth $16bn. So if I have people and a model that has subscription as well, what’s my company worth? They’re building an audience on the back of the artist. That bugs me. It’s a shell game. It’s like ‘we need this’, but they don’t really need it because we [Apple Music] don’t have a free service.”


“We’d have 500 million people using it,” Iovine said on what would happen if Apple started a free service, but made it very clear that wasn’t on the agenda.

Trying to put an artist’s perspective on things, Iovine – who has a significant background with record label Interscope, continues: “If you’re an artist and you put out a record – most artists only have one or two hit records – that has 100million streams, on certain services you only get paid on 75% of those streams. How’s an artist going to live like that? So then they say ‘okay, I’m not going to make any money out of records, so I’m going to go on tour’.”

“I had some really big acts [on former labal Interscope] about five or seven years ago, and I’d say, ‘Come off the road.’ And they’d say, ‘But we don’t make any money on our records’. I’d say: ‘Well your next record’s going to be a flop, because Bruce Springsteen, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones – all those records you love – those guys took a year, year-and-a-half off to make their albums.’”

“What I’m hearing now from the labels is ‘We don’t have enough worldwide superstars.’ Well there’s a good reason for that: the records are taking a backseat to all the touring. And they should at least be equal. They’re not right now, and you’re seeing the album being really beat up.”

Watch the half-hour interview in full via YouTube, below: