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First look: Beats Music is off to a promising start | TechHive

Stashed in: Pandora, Curation, Monetization, @drdre, Beats

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Oh coolness.

<On an iOS device just swipe to the left to get to The Sentence. This is where you complete the sentence “I’m ___ and feel like ___ with ___ to ___.” For me, it defaulted to “I’m on the subway and feel like making bad choices with my entourage to pop latino.” Just tap the suggestions to choose a different option and when you’re ready, tap on Play the Sentence. The resulting music is based not just on the choices you’ve made but also your original genre and artist choices. So, if you’ve chosen modern genres and artists, no matter how you've completed The Sentence, you’re not going to get a load of recordings made famous by Bing Crosby and The Shirelles.>


Curation and explorationAnd that’s the vibe that you get from Beats Music: The playlists feel like they were human-generated. Not just by someone tasked with churning out 50 lists a day, but by the crusty dude behind the counter of your favorite music shop—the guy who obsesses about music from morning to midnight. He knows what you like and what you don’t and he’s going to make sure you hear just the good stuff. (Although Beats lacks a feature that sneers at you when you bring a Barry Gibb album to the counter.)

playscreenBeats' Now Playing screen.

But maybe you’re one of those record store customers who prefers to shuffle through the bins, because you're that crusty dude. That’s possible too. Tap on the Menu button in the screen’s top-left corner and a Search field appears so you can quickly find artists, albums, tracks, playlists, and other users. Tap an entry and you’re taken to that item’s screen.

For example, enter David Bowie and tap on his name. In the resulting screen you see his picture and, when tapping on the arrow next to his name, his bio. Below are entries for similar artists. You can follow Bowie (meaning that you can more easily navigate to their work, not that you’re going to chat with them), see his latest release, top songs, essential albums, and playlists based on his work. Tap the play button next to each musical entry and that thing starts playing. Tap an elipsis (…) to the right of an entry and you can share it to your Beats followers (of course there’s a social networking component), mark it as something you love or hate, or tap a plus button that lets you add it to your library or a playlist. Once you’ve added something you can easily access it via My Playlists and My Library entries in the menu.

Sounds well designed.

I've heard Dr. Dre makes more money off Beats than he did from his music.

Have you read that anywhere?

No, but there's a good reason why he might:

The streaming business is in its infancy, said Marks, and once it matures, streams could be in the 100 of millions. Pennies add up quickly. If streaming services can garner enough paying subscribers to tip the scale, there could be enormous revenue promise.

The old model was more like a lake–a significant amount of money from onetime transaction between an artists and a consumer pooled up quickly. But in the streaming model, like its name implies, artists' earnings are ongoing.

Although Dre and Iovine are banking on their reputation among artists and record labels alike to bring credibility to the music streaming business, there isn't much they can do to change how much artists earn. Even with deep industry connections, they will likely still have the pay the same upfront licensing fees to the major record labels that Spotify and the rest have to pay.

But if Dre and Iovine are able to replicate the success of Beats Headphones, they might be able to move the needle on the copyright conversation. Power is in numbers.

In this growing ecosystem of services, a Beats victory is a victory for the entire streaming industry.

(great article all around and worth a read)

From the August 2011 Vulture snippet about how Dr. Dre made his money:

Dre and Jimmy Iovine have sold a 51 percent share of their company, Beats Electronics, which makes the Beats by Dre headphones, to HTC, a smartphone manufacturer, for $309 million. Not that Dre really needed the money, seeing as he already had around $125 million.

The plan to improve "the whole music ecosystem" was hatched by Dre and Iovine in 2009:

According to CNET, Dre, Jimmy Iovine, and Hewlett-Packard are collaborating on a line of expensive laptops, headsets, and software that feature the Beats By Dr. Dre brand (which has so far just been a line of expensive headphones). And the way Iovine is talking, this is just the first step: “We have to fix the entire chain. Our position is to go to all the sources and try to improve sound and educate people ... We can't put anything weak in the line. Whoever puts out things that sound bad shouldn't be as cool as something that sounds great."

In 2011 Forbes reported:

Even if the deal is exactly as it appears, Dre’s remaining stake could rapidly rise in value as HTC pours money into Beats. And one thing is clear: The competition for the title of hip-hop’s wealthiest — recently a two-horse race between Jay-Z ($450 million) and Diddy ($475 million) — has turned into a three-man competition overnight. At the very least, the HTC payday means Dre has a terrific chance of topping those two in next year’s Hip-Hop Cash Kings annual earnings list.

So it looks like that was just the first step.

Beats Music is the next logical step in the progression.

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