By Eliot Van Buskirk of Evolver.fm.
It’s July 1, which means we’re into the second half of 2013. As such, this seems like a good time to ask: Where are the big new celebrity-driven music services that were supposed to up-end the status quo and make everybody care about music in new ways? These would be Project “Daisy,” initially created by Beats Electronics (Jimmy Iovine, Dr. Dre) and now including Trent Reznor and Ian Rogers; and Pono, from Neil Young, with approval from Beck and other high-profile friends.
This as-yet-unnamed music subscription service hopes to unite expert tastemaking and a music subscription to bring back the “cultural context” and “emotional connection” to music, which its executives say is missing.
- Founders: Beats Electronics’ Jimmy Iovine (longtime record industry guy, American Idol Judge, co-founder of Interscope and Beats Electronics) and Andre Young a.k.a. Dr. Dre (co-founder of Beats Electronics, rapper, producer, former co-owner of Death Row Records).
- CEO: Ian Rogers, formerly of The Beastie Boys crew, Yahoo Music, TopSpin
- Creative Chief: Trent Reznor, frontman of Nine Inch Nails and digital music innovator
- Title unknown: Beats Electronics president and COO Luke Wood
Why It’s “Different”
However, its creators promise a vastly different experience.
Experts will curate music for listeners, although how they’ll do that isn’t clear. Once listeners find an artist they like, Daisy will reportedly help that artist sell stuff directly to those fans, ostensibly using Rogers’ chops as the former CEO of TopSpin, which specializes in direct-to-fan marketing and sales. Overall, Iovine says, the goal is to do for music discovery and consumption what Beats did for the sound quality of mainstream headphones.
A Daisy spokesperson declined to comment or connect us for an interview, but said they’ll keep us in the loop as things progress. However, we have uncovered one piece of new information: “Daisy,” the codename of the project, does not come from the first computer to sing. It’s actually the name of Luke Wood’s dog.
Rhapsody and others have had editorial around music forever. Rdio has a great “follow” feature, and now Spotify does too. Meanwhile, 8tracks, Songza and many others already have curated playlists. And while it could be easy to get a few celebs and music critics to program playlists around the launch, it’s hard to know whether they’ll stick around — or whether Daisy will be able to take the concept past the celebrity playlist and radio programming that already exists, to create something new and exciting to the mainstream on the level of Beats By Dre headphones.
The idea of reinventing the music subscription in a way that people who never considered subscribing before would do it sounds great in theory — and yes, this is exactly what Beats did for headphones. However, it could be quite difficult in practice. Mainstream consumers have used plenty of headphones before, but most have yet to pay for unlimited music.
In March, before Apple announced iTunes Radio (details), eWeek noted the curious timing of a meeting between Apple CEO Tim Cook and Beats Electronics CEO Jimmy Iovine — just before Beats announced it was spinning off Daisy as a separate company. This caused eWeek to conclude that “Apple’s music streaming service may be Daisy.”
Of course, we now know that Apple is prepping its own iTunes Radio service for the fall, which unlike Daisy, is an internet radio service. Daisy, on the other hand, is an unlimited, on-demand music subscription (like Rdio, Rhapsody, or Spotify), so Apple could theoretically still buy Daisy to round out its stable of music offerings, although we wouldn’t count on it. Maybe Apple will wait to see how Daisy does first (or maybe Apple said no to an acquisition, so Beats spun Daisy out on its own instead).
In announcing its spinoff of Daisy, Beats Electronics stated that Daisy will launch towards the end of 2013. Its name is probably not final (daisy.com and daisymusic.com are taken, and daisy.fm appears unregistered).
We’re going to look at Pono soon; stay tuned.
(Image courtesy of USC)