Headphones manufacturer Beats was aiming to launch its Beats Music streaming service this year, but has now confirmed that it will go live in the US in January. That’s according to Beats Music boss Ian Rogers, who blogged about the launch plans today.
“If you’ve spent any time around me in the past six months you’ve surely seen me buried in my phone making playlists, poking, prodding, and testing our forthcoming service, Beats Music,” he wrote.
“Sincere thanks to those who have been testing the private Alpha-turned-Beta along with me. We’re nearly ready for liftoff. Thanks to your diligent testing and feedback we are locked and loaded, ready to launch here in the US in January, 2014.”
Music fans are being invited to reserve their usernames at the Beats Music website – this appears to be available to users globally, as the entry form’s box for a US mobile number is optional. Rogers doesn’t shy away from the company’s previous intentions to launch Beats Music before Christmas, in his post.
“When I joined Beats Music in January I’d expected we’d get this out the door before the end of the year. Thankfully I work with people who have patience and are more concerned about getting Beats Music right than pushing it out the door. In retrospect we’ve accomplished far more this year than I’d imagined possible,” he writes.
“Facts: Beats Music is real. We’re in an internal, private beta with people who know and love music (including a few of my personal heroes). We’re providing a few artists and other influencers access to familiarize them with the service and get their early feedback. We’re making improvements based on that feedback. We can’t wait to share it with the world, and are set to launch in the US in January.”
There is no news on launches elsewhere in the world as yet. What else do we know about Beats Music though? We know the service will have a strong emphasis on curation: playlists from artists, tastemakers and Beats Music’s own editorial team – it hired former Clear Channel exec Julie Pilat in August to head up its music curation and artist development activities.
“We’re going to focus really heavily on playlists, because that’s how we consume music and that’s how most people consume music,” Beats COO Luke Wood told TheNextWeb in October. “We’re talking about real depth of personalisation and knowing who I am, who you are, what we’re listening to, what we like, what we’ve listened to before and then offering up music that is highly relevant to our taste profile.”
“We’re going to do everything we can in our unique position to bring the industry together and do something really progressive, and have a form of curation that doesn’t exist right now,” said Beats CEO Jimmy Iovine in January, just after poaching Rogers to be Beats Music’s boss. “Right now, these things are all utilities: ‘Give me your credit card, here’s 12m songs, and good luck’. We don’t think that’s gonna stick.”
Rogers agreed with that, telling journalists in January that “The next phase of internet distribution is all about curation by trusted sources… I think it’s what consumers want and need… They’re not just going to get a search box… I don’t believe that any existing services out there are the people who are going to popularise the notion of subscription, certainly not in the way that Jimmy and Luke and Beats will do.”
We also know that Beats Music won’t be blatting out everything you play onto Facebook, after Rogers lambasted the practice in a September blog post.
“This feature was always a bad idea,” he wrote. “It’s as if Instagram uploaded every photo you take with your phone. I can’t wait for music services to stop doing this by default. I promise you Beats Music will not do the ‘barf everything you play on Facebook’ bullshit. If your music service is currently barfing every track you play to Facebook, turn that shit off.”
Beats has been rumoured to be negotiating some kind of bundling deal with US telco AT&T, with its customers getting a limited free trial before being upsold to subscriptions. If that partnership is still in play, it could be one reason for holding back the Beats Music launch until January. Rogers had already said that Beats Music would be “mobile-first: iOS, Android, Windows 8, but also desktop”.
Even without a telco on board, Beats will have significant financial muscle behind its new streaming service. The parent company was on course to generate $1.4bn of revenues in 2013 according to a Fast Company report in August.
Beats also raised $60m of funding in March from investors including Access Industries – the owner of major label Warner Music Group, but also (intriguingly) a significant investor in rival streaming service Deezer. Then in September, Beats took a $500m investment from private equity firm Carlyle Group, while also buying out tech firm HTC’s stake in the company.