Iovine’s Daisy in the stream could mean bou­quets all round

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - OPINION -

When Jimmy Iovine talks, it’s best to lis­ten. Ar­guably one of the most im­por­tant and in­flu­en­tial peo­ple in the mu­sic world, he’s the man who brought us Eminem and Lady Gaga, among oth­ers. He owns Beats head­phones, he’s one of the top fig­ures at the world’s big­gest record la­bel (Uni­ver­sal), and he’s one of the few real peo­ple Bruce Spring­steen has writ­ten a lyric about.

Iovine is talk­ing the talk for Daisy, his new sub­scrip­tion mu­sic ser­vice that is due to launch this sum­mer and has the po­ten­tial to be a game-changer. If the new ser­vice gains crit­i­cal mass (and most ev­ery­thing Iovine has turned his hand to has), the mu­sic world will be changed. For the bet­ter.

As some­one who has suc­cess­fully done both soft­ware and hard­ware, Iovine is best placed for a big rush and push on stream­ing. Yes, there are plenty such ser­vices out there, but from what Iovine is say­ing they’re not get­ting the multi-mil­lion num­bers they need for it to make fi­nan­cial sense be­cause they’ve over­looked one crit­i­cal com­po­nent: cu­ra­tion.

For Iovine, the prob­lem is sim­ply stated: “Right now, some­body’s giv­ing you 12 mil­lion songs and you give them your credit card and they tell you ‘good luck’. You need to have some kind of help. I’m go­ing to of­fer you a guide [through the 12 mil­lion-plus tracks that will be avail­able]. And that guide will be a trusted voice”.

Iovine is mostly wrong when he says that the ex­ist­ing sub­scrip­tion ser­vices don’t of­fer rec­om­menda- tion fil­ters; they all do to some ex­tent. But he’s cor­rect that if you’re go­ing to push a ser­vice of­fer­ing a mu­sic fan gazil­lions of songs, you really do need to pro­vide some form of route map that flat­ters the con­sumers – all mu­sic fans be­lieve them­selves to have “cooler” tastes than they ac­tu­ally have – but isn’t just an­other souped-up “if you liked that, you will like this” crappy rec­om­men­da­tion en­gine. (One stream­ing ser­vice sug­gested An­dre Rieu to me af­ter play­ing a Blue Nile song).

Iovine makes the point that his record la­bel back­ground (some­thing none of the other stream­ing ser­vice chiefs can boast of) means “cu­ra­tion” is his strong point. “It’s what we did at the la­bel – we cu­rated,” he says. “There are 150 white rap­pers in the US; we served you one” – Eminem.

If “cu­ra­tion” is the key to Daisy (or Beats Stream­ing Ser­vice, as it may still be called), all Iovine is say­ing is that he will blend a mix of hu­man mu­sic cre­ators who will work along­side stan­dard smart al­go­rithms to serve up a bet­ter way to lis­ten to mu­sic.

Iovine cracked the code with Beats. He got a whole co­hort to throw out their white in-ear head­phones and pay top dol­lar for bet­ter au­dio qual­ity and he did this, partly if not mainly, from sell­ing ghetto chic (the Dre name) to his white, mid­dle-class tar­get mar­ket. If he cracks the stream­ing code, we’re all win­ners. bboyd@irish­times.com

He’s got the Beats: Jimmy Iovine thinks he’s cracked the down­load code

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