UPDATE: Jimmy Iovine has issued an official statement apologizing for his comments about women and the difficulty they face finding music. Here it is:
We created Apple Music to make finding the right music easier for everyone — men and women, young and old. Our new ad focuses on women, which is why I answered the way I did, but of course the same applies equally for men. I could have chosen my words better, and I apologize.
If you’re the co-founder and chairman of one of the most storied record labels in the world, why not toss off a thoughtless gendered comment about how women find it hard to discover music? Iovine helped found Interscope Records, and later teamed with Dr. Dre to start Beats Music in 2006. When Apple acquired Beats, he joined Apple Music in 2014 to help run the business. But in the midst of all that, he apparently got confused about when, how, and with what means women all over the world are discovering music.
In a recent interview with CBS This Morning, Iovine had the audacity to sit next to Mary J. Blige and say to the camera with a straight face that women have trouble discovering music.
Here he goes explaining the concept behind an Apple Music ad:
So I always knew that women find it very difficult at times – some women – to find music. And this helps makes it easier with playlists, curated by real people. They’re not made by algorithms alone – they’re made by algorithms but with a human touch.
One of the female newscasters chimes in “He’s talking about me, I told him that.” Girl, please respect yourself more in the future.
So Iovine goes on about his ad featuring Mary J. Blige:
I just thought of a problem: girls are sitting around talking about boys. Or complaining about boys! They need music for that, right? It’s hard to find the right music. Not everyone… knows a DJ.
See, Mary J. Blige doesn’t have that problem at all because she created some of the most compelling, gut-wrenching breakup songs in the history of the art form. If she wanted to, she could just listen to her own discography.
Of course, Blige was thrilled to be in the ad which was actually pretty great! It stars Blige along with Kerry Washington and Blige’s IRL friend Taraji P. Henson. It’s great to see these women dancing and laughing, using Apple Music. Hey, I use Apple Music too and really enjoy it. But I don’t use it because I’m weak and crippled, desperately searching for an “algorithm with a human touch” to direct me toward compelling art. I can use my own expertise and knowledge to find, consume, and pass along music quite easily. I use Apple Music because it’s a useful technological tool. And I, a grown woman, use those.
You know how women around you are constantly talking about being underestimated, undervalued, overlooked and swept under the rug? This is exactly the kind of shit we’re talking about. If this is what Iovine says casually in public, let’s consider how these ideas about gender influence his hiring decisions. Let’s consider what he says and does in private. This is one of the most powerful men in the music industry and he is openly spouting off sexist shit on national television. Maybe this will spark some skeptics into believing women when we say that sexism is alive and well?
Do better Apple Music. You owe it to the women who (invisibly) run the music world. You owe it Mary J. Blige, Kerry Washington, and Taraj P. Henson not to associate their names with this kind of soft misogyny. You owe it to me, so I don’t switch back to Spotify.