Apple announced its Apple Music service on Monday with the fanfare of a returning hero. The streaming and radio platform does indeed have the potential to transform and consolidate the market for subscription-based music.
But in a new interview, some of its marquee music executives already are tempering their rhetoric to acknowledge the deep problems the music business as a whole still faces outside the streaming bubble.
"It's in really rough shape. The ecosystem is messed up," Apple's Jimmy Iovine told the Hollywood Reporter of the business as a whole. The Interscope Records co-founder came to Apple after it acquired Beats, his headphone and streaming company created with Dr. Dre.
While music is a rounding error in the overall plan of Apple, which has a reported $178 billion in cash reserves, its pioneering iTunes platform got socked with a 13% loss in download sales in 2014 and the company now needs to begin its transition away from that model.
With 800 million credit-card-bearing users already invested in its services and products, if Apple can make the streaming shift painless, it could be a natural next move for consumers. But the company's biggest problem is that streaming's early adopters already are locked into other favored services like Spotify, Rdio and Pandora.
Even Eddie Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet and software services, admits Apple probably can't rule the entire world overnight in this arena. Each service has its partisans, but Apple Music could, perhaps, be most transformative if it moved streaming from a fast-growing future inevitability into the immediate, widely adopted present.
"It's not, in order for us to win, everybody else has to lose," Cue said to THR. "We want to make the best product on the planet … but that doesn't mean it has to be the only product."