Dr Dre performs

The Dr. Dre Versus Jay Z Streaming Wars Are Dead

Dr. Dre has been in the spotlight for a couple of decades now and all for less controversial reasons than when he was a member of the rap group N.W.A.

Last July, The Hollywood Reporter interviewed Dr. Dre for the biopic Straight Outta Compton, where he reflects on everything he and the other members of the group went through, even mentioning the moment he left the group leading to a series of wake-up calls before he finally ventured out on his own.

From N.W.A., which was on Eazy-E’s Ruthless label, to Suge Knight’s Death Row before Dr. Dre had a falling out, to start Aftermath entertainment, which the LA Times details in 1996.

“…sources familiar with the split said tension has been building for the last six months over the creative direction of the company.”

Dr. Dre released his debut album on the label by the same name with Been There Done That by Dr Dre.

Aftermath Entertainment has been an active label ever since, with only a handful of big names such as Kendrick Lamar, 50 Cent, Eminem, and Dr. Dre, which established his foundation of stability aside from the equally, if not more successful Beats collaboration with the technology monstrosity known as Apple.

That relationship has been going strong for more than a few years now, and recently Dr. Dre has been making more headlines with his new miniseries called Vital Signs, which will be the first Apple Music original series on the platform.

This news which is covered by The Inquisitr comes at a time when the media industry is attempting to reinvent itself, in a trend where companies known for cornering a certain market in the media industry — such as Netflix or Amazon — are cutting deals for original content to establish their a loyal share of the customer base.

The arrival to this point in Dr. Dre’s career and his involvement might be a bit confusing in a the details of what the service is to those who have not kept up.

It’s built up around the fact that Dr. Dre has always put quality before quantity from the beginning of his music industry life.

The falling out with early projects in his past is a reflection of this, which has made him one of the most sought after producers in music.

This has resulted in the creation of his Beats headphone equipment, which eventually lead to the relationship between Dr. Dre and the iPhone company.

But the effort is even more confusing to those who might not be familiar with Apple products, which is constantly reinventing itself since the passing of the company’s wunderkind Steve Jobs.

At the time that Apple bought Dr. Dre’s hardware, it also absorbed his music streaming service for the obvious reasons, when it was running out the clock on where it could go with iPods and its share of the music industry that the company had single-handedly rebuilt.

This would appear to be the case because when Apple bought Dr. Dre’s Beats company, The Telegraph wrote about the investment Apple made and what they had to spend on the endeavor just a few years ago.

“The agreement sees Apple snap up Beats’ music streaming service and audio equipment arm. Beats co-founders Jimmy Iovine, a music producer, and rapper Dr Dre will join Apple, as part of the deal, which comprises $2.6bn in cash and around $400m in Apple shares.”

This was before the company would mention that it too was getting into the streaming service platform game with what is referred to as Apple Music.

Dr Dre's involvement with Apple, didn't happen in 2008
Apple music album from iTunes in 2008. [image by Guilherme Tavare via Flickr / CC BY 2.0]

Last June, Rolling Stone published a thorough break down of what users could expect from the platform, but those who were already catching onto what those streaming services offered, had already made assumptions that the company was a little too late, with services like Spotify already leading the industry.

This would come back to the issues of quality, which has been central to Dr. Dre’s success.

“Man, it’s one thing that people steal my music. It’s another thing to destroy the feeling of what I’ve worked on.”

Dr. Dre’s quote represents the view of many music industry pioneers who have often complained about the terrible quality of the music, forced through widely distributed and no-choice digital market full of compressed mp3s.

"In Rainbows" download by Radiohead
Prior to quality enthusiasts like Dr Dre, the first publicized download of an album was with Radiohead’s “In Rainbows”, which was a pay-what-you-want at 128 mbp download. [Image by Patrick Woodward via Flickr / CC BY 2.0]

When Radiohead’s In Rainbows was released in 2007, it was the first to get the attention of a pay-what-you want program, only to leave people with 128 mpbs quality tracks.

And while consumers still had a choice, people like Dr. Dre wanted consumers to know the difference. Which is why big names such as Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails became involved, Jay Z started Tidal a competing music service and musician Neil Young created his iPod equivalent which handles open lossy digital music files, for high quality.

Jay Z and Dr. Dre have also had a relationship that goes way back to the days of Ruthless records, so the irony that Tidal and Apple Music are in competition cannot be ignored, especially because soon after Apple Music started, The Inquisitr compiled some reports suggesting that subscribers were already beginning to leaving the service in droves.

And while it was later confirmed to be true, the company doesn’t see it as a problem because in an article by USA Today, the company points out that their investment in Dr. Dre is not at risk of a loss, because of their attempt to bridge the transition from the music hardware dependency of iPods to more dependency on the iTunes program, which houses Apple Music.

Since the three-month free trial subscription started off the streaming service, when they did lose those subscribers, the last report on that is that they’re at 11 million subscribers.

And with those big names behind the entrepreneurship, are the other big names joining, because the battle since the early days of digital property has been that artists are getting short changed for their work.

But this has always been the case with the music industry where labels take more than what they give the artist, and now Jay Z’s service offers more compensation to the artist than spotify would, but this also caused consumers to take a harder look at Apple Music, especially when Taylor Swift made a big deal about just that very thing, when she publicly shunned the company for not paying artists the right amount and as a result, did not allow them to stream her music.

In another unrelated event, Taylor Swift has been going focused on protecting her brand by also going after counterfeiters in China, giving her fans access to her own products, which is a related way, Dr. Dre has also done the same, both covered by The Inquisitr.

All of which happened a few months before the subscription service launched, which caused the company to cave and finally cut a deal with her according to Entertainment Weekly.

This kind of exclusivity is also behind all of the artists who are working together with Tidal, no doubt, renegotiating major deals with other labels, changing the industry once again.

And this also comes back to Dr Dre’s releasing his final full-length album Compton through his platform, at its inception which needed big names to hold listeners.

So it’s plain to see that the competition between Dr Dre’s Beats service through Apple Music is certain competing with Jay Z’s Tidal streaming service, as reported by The Inquisitr.

This can be confirmed with The Grio which wrote last March that Jay Z was making Apple and practically, Dr. Dre, fight for the talent they were trying to get.

One commenter in article’s Facebook widget weighed in.

Dr Dre article comment
Article about Dr Dre’s involvement with new Apple company is commented on. [image screenshot]

With the Beats 1 radio program, the brand curator getting music for the show, individual artists starting their own programs such as Dr. Dre’s The Pharmacy and now the new miniseries with him at the helm.

The article previously referred to by USA Today talks about the deal with Dr Dre’s show which elaborates on the gains and losses of launching his show.

“You have to hook consumers, and the most compelling way to do that is not through stale, old programming but original shows,” he says, adding that Apple partnering with an established cultural figure such as Dr. Dre is a savvy move. “Between his success as a recording artist and movie producer, people will tune in. If this is a risk (for Apple), then it’s one with great upside.”

The quote is from Greg Boyer who is a partner with PwC media and entertainment company which according to their site, “work with businesses to address both the challenges and opportunities presented by digital transformation, assisting them shift from traditional business models to businesses, brands and revenue streams that leverage digital content and platforms.”

The service also includes music journalism, which will provide more even more original content for subscribers. From this, it’s pretty clear there’s more behind this for Dr. Dre than a money making venture. By his involvement alone, the music industry has someone who will remain at the helm of the future, of music.

[Featured Photo by Scott Roth / Invision / AP]