Beats Music is ready to take on Spotify, Pandora, and Rdio with playlists curated by humans, a huge marketing campaign. Two years ago, it was just a whisper, a rumored collaboration with smartphone manufacturer HTC. Here's how the streaming music service got to today — swallowing MOG and HTC in its wake — and where it will go next.
May 29, 2014
The same day its acquisition by Apple was announced, Beats Music has lowered its annual subscription fee. The service now costs $99.99 for a year, down from $119.88 — there was previously no saving on paying the regular $9.99 price every month. That monthly fee remains the same, but Beats has also extended the free trial period from 7 to 14 days. AT&T customers still get a three-month trial.Read Article >
The pricing revision means that Beats effectively gives you two more months of service than its main competitors, Spotify and Rdio, if you're committed to spending $100 on streaming music. Both rival platforms do offer $5-a-month plans, but Rdio's doesn't include mobile streaming and Spotify's is limited to students. Beats has no free tier, however, and is reportedly struggling to gain subscribers.
Jan 11, 2014Read Article >
While the standard $9.99 monthly subscription lets a single user stream songs to three devices, the AT&T-exclusive $14.99 family plan will let five users stream to ten devices in total. You'll also need to have a cellular family plan through AT&T, though, or a multiline account of some other sort. AT&T customers also get to try the service free for 30 days, or 90 days for families, while non-AT&T customers only get a 7-day free trial. AT&T tells The Verge that Beats Music will not take advantage of its controversial Sponsored Data feature at this time.
Jan 5, 2014
Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC is having some serious financial troubles, and they don't appear to be getting much better. Three months ago, HTC reported its first quarterly loss in company history, and today it narrowly managed to avoid making that two losses in a row. Today, for the fourth quarter of 2013, HTC reported net profit of only NT$310 million (about $10.3 million) on revenue of NT$42.9 billion (about $1.4 billion). But that $10 million profit doesn't necessarily represent a change in the company's fortunes, because it counts the roughly $85 million one-time profit that the company made when it sold its last remaining shares of Beats Audio. According to Reuters, the Beats transaction would have been figured into the calculations for the fourth quarter.Read Article >
HTC has seen a number of senior executives leave in recent months, but it's putting on a brave face in public. The company has denied reports that it shut down factories to save money. It also says that marketing is its biggest challenge and it recently ran a reportedly expensive ad campaign starring Robert Downey Jr.
Dec 4, 2013
It's been nearly a year since we first heard about Project Daisy — a music subscription service from Beats Audio and Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor — and now it seems the service is nearly ready to launch. According to a blog post from Beats Music CEO Ian Rogers, the service has been operating in private beta and will be ready to open to the public in January of 2014. Simultaneously, the official Beats Music site has just launched, letting users claim their username now in advance of the service's launch.Read Article >
There's still no other details about what exactly will make Beats Music unique over other offers like Spotify, Rdio, and the Beats-owned Mog, but all along Reznor and co-founder Jimmy Iovine have said that Beats will offer a much better discovery and recommendation algorithm than its competitors. Last year, Reznor said that Beats Music "uses mathematics to offer suggestions to the listener... [but also] would present choices based partly on suggestions made by connoisseurs, making it a platform in which the machine and the human would collide more intimately." After a few delays (Project Daisy was first planned to launch in early 2013), it won't be long before we finally find out what might make Beats Music stand out in the already crowded subscription music world.
Oct 7, 2013
It's been nearly a year since Beats Audio first announced plans to launch its own streaming music service (in partnership with Trent Reznor, among others), and the latest reports are that the project will launch on time in the next few months. The Next Web spoke with Luke Wood, president and COO of Beats, who said that the service would launch "within the next few months" for Android, iOS, and through the web. He also indicated that Windows 8 support would be added down the line, as well.Read Article >
He also backed up Jimmy Iovine's comments stating that the Beats service would rely on a combination of computer-generated recommendations along with a "human" solution to curation. "You need to start with a great editorial team that has a point of view, but we want to have a situation where we can really scale to the depth of your appetite," Wood says. "If you really love music, we want something that can go deep with you for a really long time. And that requires a perfect harmony between the algorithm and human curation." There's still no word on exactly when we can see just what Beats, Iovine, Wood, Reznor, and the rest of the team have come up with, but at least we can be pretty sure it'll be available this year.
Aug 19, 2013
The popular headphone maker Beats is reportedly attempting to buy back HTC's 25 percent stake in the company. The news comes from a Wall Street Journal report that cites "people familiar with the matter" as claiming Beats is looking to bring in a new investor to provide "fresh funds for growth," and plans on buying back HTC's stake at the same time. Although HTC bought a $300 million, 50.1 percent stake in Beats back in 2011, the headphone maker paid $150 million to take half of that stake back last year.Read Article >
The two companies have had dramatically different fortunes over the past few years. Although both are in buoyant segments of the market, Beats' revenue was reportedly "roughly $1 billion" last year, up five-fold from 2010, and in June statisticians at NPD claimed Beats had 59 percent of the US market for premium headphones. In contrast, HTC has crashed to quarter upon quarter of dwindling profits, although the company believes it will return to form towards the end of this financial year. All of HTC's high-end handsets are branded with the Beats logo and claim to have enhanced sound thanks to Beats integration. It's not immediately clear what would happen to the two companies' branding partnership should Beats be successful in severing its financial ties with HTC.
Jul 8, 2013
Beats Audio is planning to launch Daisy, its foray into the streaming music market this fall — and there's no question it wants to make a big splash when it does. To that end, the company is working to partner with AT&T and use the wireless carrier's marketing muscle to steal mindshare from entrenched competitors like Spotify. As reported by CNET, Beats co-founder and CEO Jimmy Iovine has been in meetings with executives from both AT&T and the music labels, trying to hammer out a deal that would likely give AT&T customers a free trial period as part of their data plans.Read Article >
It's a logical plan for Beats and Daisy, as having a good mobile experience will be a major component of whether or not the new service will be able to gain traction with consumers. While it's still not fully clear how exactly Daisy will differentiate itself, but we do know that the service will use a combination of advanced algorithms and recommendations from "music connoisseurs" to offer a better recommendation experience. Back in December, chief creative officer and Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor described it as "a platform in which the machine and the human would collide more intimately."
Mar 6, 2013
Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly met with Beats CEO Jimmy Iovine to talk about its upcoming streaming music service, reports Reuters. Apple has been rumored to be working on a subscription service to supplement its iTunes Music store for some time, but details so far have been scarce aside from reports indicating a possible Q1 2013 launch.Read Article >
Reuters reports that the meeting was corroborated by three people “familiar with the situation.” It reportedly concerned Beats’ upcoming streaming service, codenamed Project Daisy, in whose business model and rollout plans Cook was said to have been interested. Eddie Cue, Apple’s VP of Internet Software and Services and a leading figure in the development of Apple’s iTunes Music store, was also reportedly in attendance.
Mar 6, 2013
The deal could be announced as soon as this week, the sources said. Details about the agreement are few but the pact is only the latest sign that investors are throwing large sums of money into subscription music. Last year, Spotify attracted $100 million in investment on a $3 billion valuation. Blavatnik is the Russian-born entrepreneur that acquired Warner Music Group in 2011 for $3.3 billion. His investment is being made through Access Industries, the company that Blavatnik invests through, and not Warner. The names of the other investors could not be ascertained.Read Article >
Feb 13, 2013
Jimmy Iovine's new project out of Beats will move beyond making bass-heavy headphones: It's the Daisy music subscription service that the company began touting earlier this year. It's based on the technology developed by MOG, an existing music streaming service which Beats purchased last March. Iovine is promising to provide listeners "what song comes next," with a special emphasis on curation. "There's a sea of music, there's an ocean of music out there," Iovine says, "and there's absolutely no curation for it."Read Article >
Strangely, he says his new service isn't in competition with Spotify, saying that Spotify doesn't have the ability to serve up music that listeners want. He's also not worried about Apple or Google jumping in, "most technology companies [...] are not going to get curation right." Iovine kept repeating the mantra that the service would give you "what song comes next." Essentially, Beats is promising to create playlists that are customized to each listener created by music experts.
Jan 11, 2013
Jimmy Iovine, CEO of Beats Audio, formally announced his new Project Daisy streaming music service today and gave an interview with All Things D. In it, he talked about his relationship with Apple over the years — while at Interscope, Iovine worked with Steve Jobs during 2002 and 2003, saying that "we were really close. We did some great marketing stuff together." However, Iovine quickly began to realize that music was going to move toward streaming and tried his best to bring Jobs along. "I was always trying to push Steve into subscription. And he wasn't keen on it right away," Iovine said. "[Beats co-founder] Luke Wood and I spent about three years trying to talk him into it." Obviously, that still hasn't happened, despite recent rumors that Apple will introduce its own streaming service this winter, and it appears that pricing concerns were an ongoing issue for Jobs. "He didn't want to pay the record companies enough," said Iovine. "He felt that they would come down, eventually."Read Article >
In the meantime, Iovine is happy to press ahead with his streaming services Mog and the forthcoming Daisy. He seems pretty convinced that big tech companies aren't the right companies to tackle streaming services, despite Apple's mastery of the music industry over the last decade. Companies like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are different, Iovine believes. "Those [sites] program themselves. Subscription needs a programmer. It needs culture," Iovine said. "And tech guys can't do that. They don't even know who to hire. They're utilities." We feel like Iovine might be selling his potential competitors a little short, but he may have a point — the most successful streaming services have been created by upstarts, not entrenched companies.
Jan 10, 2013Read Article >
Beats Audio has formally announced Daisy, a new streaming music service spearheaded by Trent Reznor that's now set to launch in late 2013. This comes about one month after Reznor's plans were detailed by The New Yorker, but this marks the first formal announcement. While there aren't any new details on how the service will work, we do know a bit more about how the company will be structured: music industry vet Ian Rogers will be Daisy's CEO and will also take over as leader of Mog, which Beats purchased last year. Trent Reznor's role is also a bit more clear now — he's the company's new Chief Creative Officer. While it might seem natural for Beats to combine Mog and Daisy into one master streaming music, but the announcement indicated that both companies will continue to operate independently, at least for the time being.
Dec 10, 2012
Earlier this year, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails fame announced a partnership with Beats by Dre, known for its omnipresent line of headphones. The new project, however, has turned out to be more ambitious than many expected. In an interview with The New Yorker, Reznor has announced that he's planning a new music streaming service for launch in early 2013. Currently called Daisy, the tool is supposed to compete with Spotify and others by offering expert curation: Reznor says that it's "like having your own guy when you go into the record store, who knows what you like but can also point you down some paths you wouldn't necessarily have encountered."Read Article >
The New Yorker article itself isn't yet available online, but Pitchfork has the relevant details, quoting Reznor as saying that Daisy "uses mathematics to offer suggestions to the listener... [but also] would present choices based partly on suggestions made by connoisseurs, making it a platform in which the machine and the human would collide more intimately." Beats by Dre is affiliated with UMG-owned Interscope Records, and it recently acquired streaming music service MOG, but we don't yet know how or if either of these things will affect the partnership.
Jul 24, 2012
The official explanation for why Beats bought back controlling interest from HTC was "more flexibility for global expansion." The unofficial explanation is reportedly that the phone maker did not meet "all of the financial commitments it has made to Beats," according to CNet. If true, it could have been a side effect of the rocky road HTC has been traveling lately, capped most recently by a temporary US customs hold on its flagship One X and Q2 results that saw a big dip in profit year-over-year.Read Article >
Although Beats controls its own destiny (including MOG's music service), HTC will still retain 25 percent ownership of the company under the new arrangement. That's enough to secure a continued mobile exclusivity deal with Beats. The two companies will also work together on a "joint global marketing campaign later this year." So while the Beats logo and some core Beats technology will still likely find its way into HTC phones, don't expect Beats headphones to find their way into HTC boxes again anytime soon.
Jul 21, 2012Read Article >
The 2011 acquisition saw HTC immediately begin bundling Beats headphones with its devices, an arrangement that ended this past April. At the time, HTC's Martin Fichter told CNET that "an accessory like the headphone doesn't factor in when someone is buying a smartphone." Despite the exclusivity agreement, it's hard not to see this realignment as an additional example of that same sentiment. Then again, with Beats snatching up MOG earlier this year, it could be a matter of Beats wanting to control its own destiny moving forward as well.
Jul 2, 2012
After months of rumors and false starts, it’s finally being confirmed that music streaming service MOG is in fact being acquired by headphone maker Beats. While details of the deal aren’t being made public, GigaOm initially reported that the sale price was in the neighborhood of $14 million, although sources close to MOG later said the number was "significantly higher."Read Article >
Speaking by email, MOG founder and CEO David Hyman tells USA Today that "the addition of MOG’s music service to the Beats portfolio will provide a truly end-to-end music experience," in reference to the company’s headphones and EQ software, and majority owner HTC’s music-playing mobile devices like the One X. There hasn’t been any public discussion of how Beats might leverage its acquisition — back in March, Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine said he couldn't "show the magic trick" — but, as pointed out by USA Today, offering free trials of MOG’s mobile service to Beats customers would seem like a natural first step. While its web service is free, MOG’s unlimited mobile download service currently costs $9.99 a month.
Apr 7, 2012Read Article >
We imagine that including higher priced headphones puts quite a hit on the already slim margins on smartphones, so the move isn't really a surprise. Fichter reiterated that Beats technology would continue in the handsets themselves and wouldn't commit to never bundling headphones again, but for the time being Beats fans will need to bring their own buds, cans, or portable speakers.
Apr 5, 2012
Headphone manufacturer Beats Electronics is looking into the streaming market, with co-founder Jimmy Iovine telling Bloomberg Businessweek that he feels "subscription music online is culturally inadequate" and "it’s not satisfying right now." His comments come after rumors of a Beats buyout of MOG surfaced at the end of last month, though while several places have reported that the deal was complete, neither Beats or MOG have yet provided any confirmation.Read Article >
Iovine sees streaming as an opportunity where download markets are not — he says that Apple has made the downloading experience "very, very good" — since he believes none of the streaming providers have managed to draw the hundreds of millions of subscribers needed to make the business model viable. What he's not telling is how he feels Beats can differentiate from other offerings. "I can’t show the magic trick, but right now the services are utilities. We only see things in a complete thought."
Mar 24, 2012
We've been hearing multiple reports that MOG has been purchased by Beats Audio, but as of yet there's been no official confirmation. That could be because the final purchase price is still being negotiated. GigaOm reported this morning that the company had been picked up for just under $14 million, little more than half of the $25 million it raised in venture capital funding. A source later told the publication that the deal was going to be much larger than that, but that negotiations on the final number were still ongoing. The money for the acquisition is said to be coming straight from HTC, which invested $300 million in Beats last year, garnering it a 51-percent stake in the headphone manufacturer.Read Article >
No matter the final figure, the amount is likely to seem insignificant in the wake of Spotify's recent success, with GigaOm also revealing that the latter company is raising new funding at a requested valuation of between $3.5 to $4 billion. While it's been known that the two music services weren't competitive in terms of subscribers — MOG CEO David Hyman has stated that MOG has 500,000 paid subscribers, while Spotify boasts three million premium users — the respective numbers here are still striking. Then again, it's likely what makes MOG such an attractive target for HTC and Beats in the first place. By using a music streaming service as a value-add to its mobile devices, HTC doesn't need a large existing subscriber base as much as it needs a pre-existing infrastructure to quickly bring its own branded service to market.
Mar 20, 2012
The rumors that have been floating around are true: according to All Things D, Beats has purchased the MOG subscription music service. While HTC owns 51 percent of Beats, HTC told us that it is not directly acquiring MOG. However, due to their major investment in Beats, we wouldn't be surprised to see more integration between MOG and HTC going forward. This sale comes despite MOG's CEO David Hyman saying last month that the company had no plans to sell.Read Article >
At the same time, Hyman said that MOG has 500K subscribers — a good deal behind Spotify's 3 million premium subscribers. We reached out to Beats for a comment, and they said "they'll let us know." While there's no news yet on what kind of changes MOG will undergo under its new owners, we'll see if an infusion of Beats can help the service gain more traction going forward.
Mar 20, 2012Read Article >
Back in February we heard word that streaming-music service MOG was on the auction block, allegations that the company's CEO refuted. It appears there may have been some truth there after all, with Business Insider reporting that the company has indeed been acquired — by HTC's Beats Audio, no less. BI cautions that it has only one source for its report, but GigaOm is stating it was able to confirm the two companies were indeed circulating deal terms over the past few weeks. You may recall that HTC and Beats were rumored to be launching a streaming music service last month at Mobile World Congress, an announcement that obviously never materialized. HTC has been heavily pushing Beats as a differentiator in its devices since investing $300 million in the company last year, and an acquisition of MOG would presumably allow it to quickly move forward with a Beats-branded service to offer an even more comprehensive suite of music services.
Feb 15, 2012
HTC has been pushing its music credentials of late, releasing audio-focused phones such as the Rezound and including Beats Audio technology in its Sense UI for Android 4.0. It's not a stretch to imagine the company starting a cloud-based music initiative like compatriots Acer, and according to GigaOm that's exactly what's planned. A new streaming service will apparently be preloaded on future HTC phones and tablets, serving as the default media player, but the company is still working out pricing and other details.Read Article >
Despite recent troubles, HTC could be well-placed to make such a move — it's the majority stakeholder in Beats Electronics, a company co-founded by Jimmy Iovine, who's also said to be involved in the development of this service. Iovine's the influential head of Universal Music subsidiary label Interscope Geffen A&M, which could help HTC navigate the notoriously slippery road of licensing music for streaming. GigaOm's sources say the service is likely to be unveiled at Mobile World Congress later this month.
Aug 11, 2011
Ahead of a "major announcement" scheduled for tomorrow morning, HTC boss Peter Chou seems to have blown cover with AllThingsD today, announcing a $300 million investment in Beats Audio -- yes, the Beats by Dr. Dre and Heartbeats by Lady Gaga guys. What does $300 million in an audio lifestyle brand buy, exactly? It's actually a full-on investment in the company that will earn HTC an exclusive on Beats Audio for phones, which seems to suggest that HP's use will stop at PCs and the TouchPad -- the Pre 3 and future webOS phones would presumably be off the table. Chou says the first Beats-powered phone will launch later in 2011.Read Article >
Beats Audio's Jimmy Iovine also chatted with AllThingsD and confirmed the deal. To be fair, it's not clear whether this particular news is the announcement happening tomorrow morning, but considering that Peter Chou will be conducting the press call from Los Angeles -- Jimmy Iovine's backyard -- it all seems to be coming together.