Last September, an Apple shutdown of Beats Music seemed all but certain, putting a swift end to the streaming service that the computer giant acquired along with their $3 billion purchase of Beats by Dre headphones. However, Apple denied that Beats Music was going away – they even planned on putting a Beats app on their iPhone 6 – and according to the New York Times, Beats Music is now the centerpiece of Apple’s proposed plan to take on Spotify, with Nine Inch Nails frontman and Beats chief creative officer Trent Reznor playing a “major role” in the relaunch.
Reznor is reportedly in the process of rebuilding the app from scratch alongside a team of Apple and Beats employees that includes Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine. (It’s unclear if Zane Lowe, the influential BBC DJ that left his prized post for a gig at Apple, is also involved.) At its core, the new Beats Music (which likely won’t be called Beats Music) will be similar to the current service, albeit with a different design and more curated playlists, but not a lower price tag.
According to the Times, Apple attempted to use their music industry clout to push the major labels into a licensing deal that would allow users to pay only $8 a month, or $2 less than Spotify and the current Beats Music subscription. However, Apple was rebuffed in their attempt to lower the price of streaming music. It’s unclear if Beats will retain or alter their current $10 monthly fee when the new service launches.
One thing is certain, though: The service will not offer a free tier, a trend echoed by many major labels who told Rolling Stone that they are beginning to question the entire “freemium” music-streaming model of offering every song for free and hoping consumers will upgrade to its paid service. It’s a subject that has sparked an industry-wide war as artists like Taylor Swift and Thom Yorke flee from Spotify over what they deem as exceedingly low per-stream payouts, even as stream revenues have overtaken CD sales and are closing in on digital downloads.
No release date for the new streaming service has been announced, but it’s expected by the time Apple rolls out their next major operating system update.
Apple and Beats aren’t the only ones trying to dethrone Spotify: Jay Z recently spearheaded the $56 million acquisition of Tidal. The high-quality audio streaming service appears to be much more artist-friendly than its rivals as Taylor Swift has already allowed her music on the service.