HITS Daily Double


Timing Is Everything, Tim Ingham Points Out

On the heels of his provocative interview with Martin Mills, Music Business Worldwide’s Tim Ingham has posted an equally provocative speculative piece bearing the headline, “Apple Won’t Own the Music Biz Unless It Wins the ‘Freemium Wars.’” In it, Ingham begins by contemplating the motives behind the hiring of Zane Lowe (who, Tim supposes, must be getting a bit sick of everyone calling him a “curator”) and follows a clever line of reasoning to a tantalizing possibility.

Apple can sucker-punch freemium,” he proposes, “by creating a low-ball monthly subscription structure for its mainstream iTunes audience, while up-selling mega-fans into artist-specific silos… It will need buy-in from the world’s premier artists; artists willing to give their best to iTunes, in return for a just reward.

“To obtain this permission, Apple will need to dangle the stuff Bono knows about better than anyone: its colossal marketing clout, its consumer data analytics and its unrepentant willingness to press “push” on content to its devices.

“Especially that last one.

“Apple’s artist pitch is really very simple: Taylor Swift’s 1989 has sold around 5 million copies so far. That’s good. There are 500 million iPhones being used around the globe right now. That’s better.

“And then, finally, as a pièce de résistance for fans still tempted by The Pirate Bay’s cost-free lair, how about this: artist exclusives that extend outside their phones and into the live arena. The iTunes Festival continues to grow. Apple has huge affinity with music fans. Yet the company is yet to really take any kind of chunk out of music’s richest sector and its resultant recorded content. In some form, that will surely have to change over the next year.”

Here’s where Ingham’s line of reasoning gets really intriguing.

“To have any chance of making this work, of course, Apple is going to need to kick things off with one hell of an artist,” he suggests. “One whose return will send people nuts the world over.

“One who has shown Taylor-like willing to refuse to give their music away for free in the past.

“And, ideally, one whose long-awaited new record is out the wrong side of summer—coinciding nicely with Apple’s new service and the return of iTunes Festival to London.

“Any ideas?”

Actually, Tim, we do have someone in mind.

Now wouldn’t that be something.