Jimmy Iovine Addresses Apple Music Expansion Reports

Jimmy Iovine - Getty - 2017
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Days after The Wall Street Journal's report that Apple plans to expand into original TV series and movies, Apple executive Jimmy Iovine hinted at what that might look like.

"At Apple Music, what we're trying to create is an entire cultural, pop cultural experience, and that happens to include audio and video," he told reporters Saturday at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour.

"If South Park walks into my office, I am not going to say you're not musicians, you know?" Iovine continued when pressed about the report. "We're going to do whatever hits popular culture smack on the nose. We're going to try."

Iovine appeared Saturday to promote his upcoming HBO documentary The Defiant Ones, which centers on his relationship and partnership with Dr. Dre. Among their many collaborations, the two teamed together on Beats Electronics, which Apple bought for $3 billion in 2014, a deal that gave both Iovine and Dr. Dre senior titles at the technology giant.

Iovine said the hope for Apple is that it will be better able to compete with streaming music competitors like Spotify and Pandora, which are largely free for users: "We're fighting 'free.' So a simple utility where, 'here's all the songs, here's all the music, give me $10 and we're cool,' is not going to scale."

Apple Music, which allows users to stream select music to their devices on demand and also listen to curated playlists, launched in June 2016 and has more than 20 million subscribers as of December.

Apple Music has already stretched into original programming, with the 2016 acquisition of the Carpool Karaoke series, based on the wildly popular Late, Late Show segment from James Corden and produced by CBS Television Studios.

Last February, The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Dr. Dre is executive producing and starring in a top-secret scripted series financed by and made for Apple called Vital Signs.

The project was being eyed for Apple Music distribution, but as of February, it was unclear if Apple TV, the iTunes store or other Apple platforms (or even a traditional television distributor) would be involved. Apple and a rep for Dre declined to comment at the time of the initial report.

The half-hour series, which is described as a dark drama, is said to consist of six episodes. Veteran music video director Paul Hunter is attached as a director on Vital Signs, which also is being produced under his Eye Candy banner along with Aaron Ginsburg and William Green. Empire co-executive producer-writer Robert Munic wrote all six episodes and also will exec produce. The first season will likely roll out all at once, taking a page from Netflix and Amazon's release strategy.

While the company has experimented with video on Apple Music in the past, most notably streaming a Taylor Swift concert video and a Vice docuseries called The Score, among other unscripted efforts, Vital Signs would mark Apple's first investment in scripted television. 

In March, the company announced that it had teamed with executive producers Ben Silverman, musician Will.i.am and Howard Owens’ Propagate for a forthcoming unscripted series about the Apple app ecosystem.