Apple Exec Mansplains Music to Girls
How Jimmy Iovine, head of the tech giant’s streaming service, took the softest of softball questions on ‘CBS This Morning’ and managed to offend women everywhere.
In a nine-minute segment that served solely to promote a 30-second commercial for Apple Music, CBS This Morning effectively allotted advertorial time to Apple’s struggling new streaming service under the guise of an interview with Mary J. Blige.
It was a clear favor to Apple from CBS masquerading as editorial content, and there appeared to be no way to mess this up.
Then they messed it up.
Unprompted, Apple Music head Jimmy Iovine took the opportunity to hold forth on how women—as a gender—don’t have the skills to find music they like by themselves.
This really happened.
“So I always knew that women find it very difficult at times—some women—to find music,” said Iovine, the Interscope founder and legendary producer who co-founded Beats with Dr. Dre. “And this helps makes it easier with playlists, curated by real people.”
“I just thought of a problem: Girls are sitting around talking about boys, right? Or complaining about boys. When they’re heartbroken or whatever. They need music for that, right? It’s hard to find the right music. Not everyone has, you know, the right list, or knows a DJ.”
That was in response to the gotcha questions: “[That commercial] debuted at the Emmys and this is what people said: ‘Apple Music just gifted us with the best moment of the telecast…’ So what was your thinking with this story? What were you trying to tell?” and “Your creative concept, Jimmy, was what?”
This was a lay-up. Why did he do this? What was he thinking?
Really, how did this happen?
“I don’t think anyone knows what happened,” said Village Voice music critic Hilary Hughes. “I think he assumed that everyone was familiar with that [Apple Music commercial] clip, where Kerry Washington said something along the lines of, ‘Apple Music replaces my boyfriend in the sense that this is a mixtape.’ Instead, he just sounds like a sexist asshole.
“It would be funnier if only you knew how many times I’ve heard that same kind of sentence. I just rolled my eyes so hard they fell out of my head.”
Hughes isn’t the only one who’s baffled by the whole thing. By Thursday evening, music stars shoved potentially lucrative relationships with Apple Music to the back burner to criticize what felt like an inexplicable and random attack.
“Dear Men, and I am completely serious,” wrote Neko Case. “I don’t think you think things as stupid as Jimmy Iovine says.”
The music blog The Coquette curated a handmade playlist for Iovine, called the “Jimmy Iovine Mixtape.” It was a collection of seven songs, all titled “Fuck You.”
Of course, Iovine isn’t close to the first to say this sort of thing. He’s just the first to say it on a morning show in 2015 and still not realize it’s absolutely insane.
Earlier in the year, rock critic Jessica Hopper wrote a book called The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic that touches on the alienation and objectification of women who want to tell the world what they believe is good music—and be heard while they do it.
“These conversations that we’re talking about are important. A lot of female rock critics feel like they’re not worthy of their title exactly because of things like this. Jessica talks a lot about this: A lot of us feel they have Impostor Syndrome, that they don’t belong,” said Hughes. “So today, at some point, it was just like, ‘Again? Really? Another guy who's brushing us off? It’s unfortunate that he’s that tone deaf, no pun intended.”
What really confounds Hughes, however, is not just that Iovine’s statement is sexist. It’s that he’s got his facts wrong.
Think of the most famous rock band of all time, Hughes said. Think of the Beatles.
“Swells of teenage girls—thousands upon thousands—came to see them at Shea Stadium, came to scream for them at Ed Sullivan. Those were girls that made them the most popular band in the world. They drive the most substantial part of our love for pop music,” she said. “So it’s doubly insulting when he says something like this. We’re a long way from finding equal footing with dudes in this industry.”
And Hughes, who has one of the most prestigious job titles in the People Who Find Music Industry, simply doesn’t have time for it.
Half her music just got lost in an iTunes upgrade, and she can’t redeem all the digital copies of the vinyl she’s sent for her job as a woman who is better at talking about music than Jimmy Iovine.
“We can find music just fine,” she said. “Maybe work on fixing the thing your company makes that plays it.”