Jimmy Iovine

Three strikes and you’re out.

Farmclub, Beats Music and now Apple Music. And while we’re at it, Jimmy bears some responsibility for the failed Pressplay, and that’s four strikes.

Not that Jimmy Iovine is not talented. It’s just that his talent lies in the field of…TALENT RELATIONS!

Jimmy’s all about sucking you into his orbit, making you feel good, and utilizing your talent to generate bucks.

But what about Beats headphones?

It wasn’t a technology play, Monster provided the product, Jimmy provided the marketing.

So what’s a guy like this doing at Apple?

Good question.

So Jimmy starts off in the studio. Works his way up from the bottom to be an engineer and then a producer. He sidles up to the talent and gets the gig. The resulting albums were hits, and one cannot argue with success, I tip my hat to Jimmy for these records.

And then came Interscope. A failure until Jimmy facilitated the move of Dr. Dre from Ruthless to Death Row. Jerry Heller will tell you Dre was signed to an exclusive contract. Suge Knight was the author of “Winning Through Intimidation.” In any event, Dre’s hits went through Interscope and Jimmy became a king. We can argue all day what Jimmy provided and what methods he employed and how much credit he deserves, but music is an ugly business where everybody’s hands are dirty so to criticize Jimmy…you’d have to criticize everybody else too.

And then came the 9/11 “Tribute To Heroes,” Jimmy’s finest moment. Sure he stacked the show with colleagues and Interscope artists, the telecast made the barely known Enrique Iglesias a star, but this was the last hurrah of the old music business. Music mattered. It still drove the culture. We all sat at home while planes were grounded and watched, a show that was on seemingly every channel.

And then it all went to hell.

Research Jimmy’s quotes. He was the last person who wanted to blow up the institution. His were rearguard comments..

And then came the Beats headphone success.

What sold Beats?

COOL! All those stars, both musical and athletic. Everybody wanted to be like Dre and LeBron. Meanwhile, every headphone site known to man said the sound sucked. But it made no difference, Jimmy was selling fashion, not technology.

But Jimmy viewed himself a technology king. So he bought MOG and started Beats Music.

A complete failure. A better interface than Apple Music, since it was sans MP3s, but it had no freemium element. There was a brief free trial, but despite the vaunted telco hookup and the usual parade of stars the public didn’t want Beats Music. Because it was a me-too product with no free tier when YouTube was completely free and Spotify had freemium.

And then Jimmy sold the whole shebang to Apple.

Why they need a crappy line of headphones, I don’t know. Hell, they’ve already had to recall some for electrical glitches, that’s how well they’re built…

But they got the guts of a streaming service and Jimmy himself.

Now there’s a long history of Apple buying established products to aid in the creation of something new. SoundJam MP was the basis of iTunes.

And I don’t know exactly who to blame for the writing of the abomination known as the Apple Music app. But one thing’s for sure, Jimmy Iovine is lost at Apple. He’s not even as good as Guy Kawasaki, the famous evangelist. At least Guy could talk.

Jimmy can’t code.

He can’t present.

And his vision is not in tech.

First we had the U2 disaster. ANYBODY who surfs the web and utilizes devices could see this coming. Why couldn’t Jimmy?

Because he’s an insider in an outside world. Music is all about manipulation, shaving edges the public can’t see. Like placement and position, muscling gatekeepers for exposure. The public has no idea how the sausage is made.

But tech is transparent. 1’s and 0’s. And it’s driven by consumers. With everything available online, with comparison shopping easily done, with reviews at your fingertips, it’s hard to pull the wool over people’s eyes. There used to be regional hits in the record business, those went away with the internet, we all live in the same world now, and there are a few winners and a bunch of losers and you win via excellence.

Apple Music is not excellent.

Jimmy went to the labels and asked for a discount, he wanted Apple Music priced at $7.99.

They said no. Jimmy had lost his insider leverage, at least when it came to dough, the bottom line.

But Jimmy could wrangle talent. But getting an exclusive on Drake and Future’s new album is old school, it pisses off more people than it pleases, in tech you win on infrastructure, not penumbra.

So what has Jimmy Iovine achieved?

Well, he got really damn rich. But he put Tim Cook in a pickle. With the U2 fiasco and now the Apple Music disaster. Jimmy was supposed to be the savior, but he’s hurt Apple more than he’s helped it.

Come on, Connect? ANYBODY who used the web knew it was superfluous, unneeded, furthermore Jimmy couldn’t even convince the acts to use it!

Tech is not about perception, but reality. Perception was Apple was gonna deliver a killer music service. Reality is it fumbled the ball. Ask Jimmy about trying to get a radio station to play a second or third single off a superstar’s album after the first one stiffed. VERY difficult!

The reason tech has eaten Hollywood’s lunch for the past fifteen years is because tech is willing to start with a clean slate knowing the customer is king. In entertainment, it’s all about protecting the legacy players, the retailers, the exhibitors, and the inside deal rules. It’s all about windows and distribution games whereas in tech you put it out and let the public decide, usually without even any advertising! Imagine a new Hollywood film without a marketing budget. Then you’ve got the launch of Google, Facebook, Snapchat… They sold on quality, not image.

Apple took the image hit for its new music service, not Jimmy.

But someone’s got to pay.

Volkswagen circumvents the emission standards and Martin Winterkorn resigns, you’ve got to wipe out the dead wood, you’ve got to get a fresh start.

Same deal has to happen at Apple. Jimmy’s got to go. Or at least be demoted. Called a “consultant.” Hell, Will Dana lost his job at “Rolling Stone” after the UVA fiasco, you’ve got to send a message to people that failure won’t be tolerated.

But Jimmy’s gonna be gone soon anyway. There’s no place for him at Apple. He’s a smoke and mirrors guy in a world where that doesn’t play. He’s a street hustler in a world run by nerdy geeks. He needs to go back to developing talent, with its rough edges, the artistic world cannot be digitized.

Or he can just take his money and go home.

But he Peter principled himself right out of relevance. He proved that he was not the man he told us he was. He could not save the music business single-handedly, better curation was not the silver bullet the public was looking for.

The public is looking for ease of use first and foremost. That’s how you get people to pay, through convenience. That’s how Spotify killed P2P to begin with.

And subscriptions soar based on talent, hit records are an incredible driver…

But the streaming service is just the pipe.

Jimmy was charged with building a better pipe.

But his leaked. Sure, it worked, but poorly.

Time to call a new plumber.

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