Last updated: August 28, 2015 5:24 pm

Apple loses key music streaming executive

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The architect of Apple’s online radio strategy has resigned two months after the launch of its Beats1 radio service, said people familiar with the matter.

Ian Rogers was part of the executive team that joined Apple last year when the company acquired Beats, the audio group started by Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine, for $3bn.

Since the completion of the deal Mr Rogers has led the development of Apple’s Beats1, hiring Zane Lowe, the former BBC radio DJ, as a presenter and crafting an eclectic mix of shows streamed from London, New York and Los Angeles that have been well received by critics and listeners.

News of his departure caught colleagues off guard. He is leaving the west coast to work for a Europe-based company in an unrelated industry, people familiar with the situation said.

Apple confirmed that Mr Rogers was leaving the company but declined to comment further.

The departure of one of Apple’s most senior music executives will also surprise the music industry, which has pinned its hopes on the success of the company’s music streaming strategy.

Streaming is becoming the dominant form of digital music consumption and is growing rapidly as download sales decline.

In the US, total sales of album downloads fell 9 per cent in 2014 while sales of individual tracks declined 12 per cent, according to Nielsen Music data. However, demand for streaming increased more than 50 per cent, with 164bn songs streamed.

Beats1 is an integral part of Apple’s strategy, with the free global radio service acting as a gateway to paid the company’s music streaming subscriptions. At a splashy launch in late June that featured appearances from stars including Drake and The Weeknd, Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, said the new streaming service represented the “next chapter” of music.

Apple said this month that 11m people had signed up for free trials of Apple Music in the first four weeks since its launch. More than three-quarters of those people have continued to use the service every week.

This compares with 75m active users of Spotify, the Swedish music streaming group, which operates an advertising-supported and paid-for service. Pandora, the online radio group, has close to 80m active users.

The true popularity of Apple Music will only become clear in late September, when the first adopters of its 90-day trial offering must decide whether to pay $10 a month to keep using the service.

While Beats1 has been lauded for its diverse playlist and energetic hosts, the Apple Music app has been criticised by some for its complex design and difficulty in managing existing iTunes libraries. In July, prominent Apple blogger Jim Dalrymple called Apple Music a “Nightmare” because it lost music he had previously purchased.

Apple attempted to fix some problems relating to iCloud Music Library’s ability to sync and manage offline tracks with a mid-August software update.

A music industry veteran, Mr Rogers ran streaming at Beats before the company was acquired by Apple. Before that, he ran Topspin, a music services start-up that helps artists interact with their fans.

Additional reporting by Tim Bradshaw

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