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Apple hopes Beats co-founder's 'ear' can help amid 'dying' music industry

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[May 29, 2014]  By Alexei Oreskovic

RANCHO PALOS VERDES Calif. (Reuters) - Apple Inc's newest high-profile hire isn't sure he has a job title and won't commit to working full-time at its home base, but the iPhone maker is banking on Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine to steer it through a changing music business.

The recording industry veteran is joining up with Apple as part of its $3 billion acquisition of music streaming and audio equipment maker Beats. Iovine's "ear" for music and his entertainment industry expertise are valuable qualities for Apple, Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue said on Wednesday.

"Music is dying in the way that we've known it. It hasn't been growing in the way that we all want it to," Cue said, appearing with Iovine at the Code technology conference in southern California.

Along with Beats co-founder and rapper Dr Dre, Iovine arrives at Apple as new online music streaming services such as Pandora Media and Spotify are gaining popularity. Streaming services are expected to eventually eclipse music downloads offered by Apple's iTunes store.


The Beats subscription music service had amassed 250,000 users in its first three months of availability, according to Iovine, a relatively modest number compared to Spotify's 10 million paying subscribers.

"We have to get this model right. We don't know the exact model yet, but we have to put steroids into this thing and get it done quickly," Iovine said.

Iovine, 61, is best known as the founder of Interscope Records, home of artists from Eminem to Lady Gaga. He said there has been a long-running disconnect between Silicon Valley and Hollywood which Beats and Apple would seek to bridge.

"In the entertainment business everybody is desperately insecure," Iovine said, whereas "the guys in Silicon Valley seemed to be slightly over-confident."

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Beats' business selling high-end headphones will report to Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller after the deal closes, while the streaming music service will report to Cue, Iovine said.

When it comes to job titles though, Iovine said he was not very hung up on such things. Asked if he had a job title, he replied "I don't think so."

As for moving to Cupertino, Calif., where Apple is based, Iovine said only that he planned to "spend a lot of time" there.

(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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