Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Beats Music Targeting January Launch

Jimmy_Iovine1YouTube’s music subscription service was supposed to launch this year, but will be delayed until 2014. Now, Beats Music is playing the same tune.

Beats, the project championed by music executive Jimmy Iovine and backed by $60 million in funding, was supposed to debut in 2013. The company is now aiming for January, according to people familiar with the company.

I’ve heard different theories explaining the cause of the delay. Some people tell me that the company has been tinkering with the service, which will give subscribers all the music they can stream for a monthly fee. Others say Beats won’t be ready to launch until it hammers out a distribution deal with a telco, most likely AT&T.

Whenever Beats does launch, it will find itself in a crowded marketplace for streaming music services. Google, Spotify and several smaller services already sell monthly subscription options, and you can get free streaming from Pandora, Apple and a host of other places.

Iovine has been arguing that Beats will be better because it will rely on human beings, not computers, to help its users find music they like. And the music industry takes Beats seriously because of Iovine’s success with his Beats by Dre headphone line — if he could turn high-end headphones into a mass-market item, the thinking goes, then maybe he can convince middle America to pay a monthly fee for music, too.

Iovine gave us a conceptual preview of Beats back in February at our Dive Into Media conference. You can see his entire interview with Walt Mossberg, or watch an excerpt below:



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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik