Rumor Mill: Apple may drop Beats Music brand for streaming service

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) may change the Beats Music streaming music service it acquired along with Beats Electronics in May for $3 billion, and may drop the Beats brand for the fledgling music service, according to a Re/code report.

Apple denied a TechCrunch report that said the company would be shutting down the Beats Music service. Apple told several news outlets the report "is not true," but Apple refused to elaborate beyond that.

It's unclear what Apple's plans are for the streaming service. The company is not going to ditch its longstanding iTunes brand, but might shutter the Beats Music brand name since the service only had around 250,000 paying subscribers when the deal was announced in May. However, the Beats headphone brand has a great deal of cachet in the market and Re/code indicated Apple has no plans to drop that brand.

Meanwhile, TechCrunch reported that, according to an unnamed source, the Beats Music brand will be shut down but it's unclear what Apple will do with the overall streaming service. Apple might roll Beats Music into iTunes. When the deal was announced Apple said Beats Music would coexist separately alongside iTunes.

Apple launched its own free music-streaming service, iTunes Radio, in September 2013, and though it has more than 40 million U.S. users it is still seen as a laggard to Pandora, which had more than 76.4 million active users at the end of the second quarter. Spotify, which entered the U.S. in 2011, now counts more than 10 million paying subscribers globally.

Beats started its $9.99-per-month subscription music-streaming service in January. AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T) in January announced it would offer the Beats Music streaming service at a discount to its family plan customers. AT&T also pays to market the service.

Other carriers too are playing in the streaming music space. In late August T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) said it is adding AccuRadio, Black Planet, Grooveshark, Radio Paradise, Rdio and Songza to the Music Freedom program it first announced in June. T-Mobile launched the service in June with support for iHeartRadio, iTunesRadio, Pandora, Rhapsody, Slacker and Spotify, and has also added Samsung's Milk service. The program essentially zero-rates the data generated by select music streaming services, so that the data charges incurred by the services are not applied to users' monthly data allotments.

For more:
- see this Re/code article
- see this TechCrunch article
- see this NYT article
- see this GigaOM article

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