Apple Music exec Jimmy Iovine is getting flak for supposedly sexist comments made during a interview on Thursday, where he said a recent ad series was made because finding music is difficult for "some women."
Iovine appeared as a guest on Thursday's taping of "CBS This Morning" to discuss the inspiration behind a series of Apple Music commercials starring recording artist Mary J. Blige and actresses Kerry Washington and Taraji P. Henson. The trio's first collaboration with director Ava DuVernay (Selma, Middle of Nowhere) was well received when it aired during this year's Emmy Awards broadcast.
CBS host Gayle King asked Iovine about the ad's message — the first spot ended by calling Apple Music an "Instant boyfriend mixtape service" — and why it targeted the female demographic. He started out by explaining streaming technology before transitioning into his take on the all-female cast.
"So I always knew that women find it very difficult at times, some women, to find music," Iovine said. "And [Apple Music] helps makes it easier with playlists — but they're curated by real people. They're not made by algorithms alone - they're made by algorithms but with a human touch."
Taken in context with the Q&A session, Iovine's remarks are not overtly sexist, though in retrospect he could have done a better job framing the talking points. He also revealed that original plans called for Oprah to appear in the campaign, though she ultimately declined.
For her part, Blige said "It was a genius idea to have girls — because that's what we do, when we get together we listen to music, we talk about life, love, marriage. You know, things like that. So it was just beautiful to have Jimmy choose me to be a part of their world and them be a part of mine."
Iovine wasn't finished, however, as King asked him to describe the creative concept that resulted in DuVernay's finished product.
"I just thought of a problem. You know, girls are sitting around talking about boys, or complaining about boys, when they have their heart broken or whatever. And they need music for that, right? So it's hard to find the right music," he said.
Apple took to Twitter today to unveil a second Apple Music commercial starring Blige, Washington and Henson. The ad is another "slice of life" spot that serves as a sequel to the Emmy's spot. Gathered in Blige's kitchen, the three friends decide to listen to some tunes on Apple Music, prompting Washington to create a "recipe making night with the girls" playlist.
Sounds like a PARTY. 🎉
Apple Music's June launch was followed by an aggressive marketing campaign that has featured emerging artists, established musicians and Hollywood stars. Apple CEO Tim Cook said in October that current paying subscribers number more than 6.5 million, while another 8.5 million user are trying it out for free.
Update: Iovine apologized for his choice of words in a statement to BuzzFeed saying, "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."