Apple's Plans for Beats Music Service Taking Shape

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Apple's Plans for Beats Music Service Taking Shape
Apple's plans for Beats, the company it acquired for $3 billion (roughly Rs. 18,634 crores) in May, are coming into sharper focus.

Apple intends to include its Beats music service in future versions of iOS, its mobile software system for iPhones and iPads, according to people briefed on the plans, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Behind the scenes, Apple also is working to make the streaming music service cheaper for consumers.

It has begun discussions with record labels over new licensing terms that will allow it to drop the monthly subscription price for Beats Music to as low as $5 a month, down from $10 a month, according to executives briefed on those talks. So far labels have balked at that request, seeking a slightly higher price, according to these people.

Apple declined to comment.

The price of subscription music plans has become a debated topic in the music industry, with some analysts saying that $10 a month is simply more than most casual listeners are willing to pay. Estimates of the average listener's annual spending on music vary, but are usually around $40-$55 a year.

Record companies and artists have also recently shown frustration with the amount of free music that is available on services like Spotify and YouTube. This month Taylor Swift removed her music from Spotify, apparently because the service would not limit her music only to its paying subscribers. And this week a top executive at Sony Music suggested at an investor's conference that the company was taking a hard look at the finances of free services.

In September, when Apple released iOS 8, the latest version of its software system, the lack of a Beats Music app was a noticeable omission. Including the app is an obvious step to bring more attention to the streaming music service to Apple's hundreds of millions of mobile device customers.

When Beats will appear in iOS is unclear, and it is likely that Apple will roll the product into its iTunes product as opposed to retaining the Beats Music brand. The Financial Times first reported that Apple would include Beats in iOS beginning in March.

Beats has a headphone business, too, which Apple also acquired. The branding for the headphone business is unlikely to be discontinued because it already has a large market of customers, analysts say. The streaming service, on the other hand, still had not gained much traction before Apple acquired it.

© 2014 New York Times News Service

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