Music Kingpin Jimmy Iovine: ‘Most Tech Companies Are Culturally Inept’

The man who helped launch Eminem and Lady Gaga has a few ideas about the future of music

Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre will launch a new paid subscription music service this summer branded under the successful Beats headphone brand, Iovine said on Tuesday.

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Speaking at AllThingsD’s conference in Laguna Beach, the chairman of Interscope-Geffen-A&M sought to explain why his service will be better than the ones currently available. One reason? It’s being designed by creative people instead of geeks.

“Most technology companies are culturally inept,” Iovine said. “The way content companies never get tech right, [tech companies] never get culture right. They can hire anyone they want to sing in front of advertisements, but they never get curation right.”

Iovine then said that everyone offers the same service except for Apple, for which he reserved high praise. Steve Jobs was able to create a great service because he mirrored the current generation, boasting a background in both culture and technology.

However, this new Beats service will be “completely different” from iTunes, focusing on curating playlists for its users. Iovine spent a lot of time talking about how the order of songs matters, how Bruce Springsteen spent six months determining the eight-song order of “Born to Run.”

The Beats service customize what songs plays next for each user, relying on tastemakers like Nine Inch Nails leader turned composer Trent Reznor.

"My daughter plays Patsy Cline and Beyonce on the same playlist," Iovine said. "We can't just give them albums. They are telling us now. How loud do they have to scream it?"

Iovine, who helped launch both Eminem and Lady Gaga, has a vested interest in helping artists profit, too. While he seemed to praise Spotify, many musicians have complained that they do not get enough money from the service. Iovine said his service would enable artists to see who was listening to their music so they could get a better sense of their fan base.

Members of the audience thought that might raise privacy issues, but Iovine just flashed his smile and said he remained optimistic. 

Beats bought music service MOG last summer and revealed in January that it is planning a new subscription service. Ian Rogers, former CEO of Topspin Media, will run the new service, code-named Daisy.