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Apple not closing Beats Music, though a rebrand under iTunes could be on the cards

By | Published on Tuesday 23 September 2014

Beats Music

There has been some debate as to what it was that most persuaded Apple to part with $3 billion earlier this year to acquire big bad Beats. Did it really want to acquire the firm’s shitty headphone technology? Or was it more interested in a brand that is well popular with the kids? Or was it the fledgling Beats streaming service that really got the Apple dudes excited?

Well, rumours running rife online last night suggested, just for a moment, that the latter definitely wasn’t a factor, as TechCrunch announced that Apple was getting ready to shut the Beats Music service down. Which might explain, conspiracy theorists deduced, why there was no big Beats Music announcement at Apple’s recent iPhone 6-launching press junket. Someone probably ought to prepare Beats’ Gurner-In-Chief Ellen DeGeneres for the bad news.

Except, didn’t Apple boss Tim Cook recently say in an interview with journalist Charlie Rose that he was a big fan of Beats Music, and that it had had an impact on his company’s decision to acquire the wider Beats company?

As The Music Network noted last week, Cook remarked: “One night, I’m sitting playing with [the Beats streaming service] versus some others and all of a sudden it dawns on me that when I listen to theirs for a while, I feel completely different. And the reason is: they recognised that human curation was important in the subscription service. The sequence of songs that you listen to affects how you feel … I couldn’t sleep that night, so I was thinking ‘we need to do this'”.

So, all you Beats Music doom-sayers out there (what do you mean you were all asleep when this was being debated online last night), don’t be getting ahead of yourselves. For starters, Apple’s spokesperson is pretty adamantly denying the TechCrunch story. Meanwhile, insiders say that the Beats Music closure rumours likely stem from the fact discussions are being had about whether or not to reposition the streaming service under the iTunes brand. So technically Beats Music would cease, but the service itself would continue.

Apple, of course, already has a Pandora-style service operating in the US called iTunes Radio, and word has it that set-up now also sits under Beats Music CEO Ian Rogers. So behind the scenes the two services are becoming more closely aligned, and bringing the Beats Music catalogue and curation framework into the iTunes ecosystem would certainly expose it to a massive audience of music consumers, in the US and worldwide.

Some reckon that eventuality is now a given, and could kick in sometime next year. So if you prefer beats to tunes, I’d get streaming now while you can.