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20 November 2015

Apple Music boss says women “find it very difficult” to choose music

The strange case of the Female Music Paralysis. 

By Barbara Speed

Ladies, we’ve all been there. You fancy listening to something, and then, as you approach your laptop or phone, you become strangely paralysed. You can’t think of a single artist or song you’d like to listen to. In fact, do you even know any artists? Can you name a single song

This was the strange phenomenon described by head of Apple Music, Jimmy Iovine, in an interview on a US breakfast show today. Apple Music’s streaming service offers pre-potted playlists and music suggestions chosen by experts, and Iovine took the opportunity to share his own experiences of women’s listening habits: 

I’ve always known 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.

Breaking news: this is, of course, rubbish. We all struggle to think of the right song sometimes, but research suggests women actually find decision-making easier than men. And that’s assuming it makes sense to analyse this by gender in the first plae – our ability to select music probably has a lot more to do with age, level of musical interest, and who we’re trying to impress with our choices.

Iovine went on to explain that women often have far more pressing concerns to attend to:

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I just thought of a problem, you know, girls sitting around talking about boys, right, or complaining about boys when they’re heartbroken or whatever.

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They need music for that, right? So it’s hard to find the right music. Not everyone has the right list or knows a DJ or something.

Iovine made the comments on the CBS This Morning show, where he was a guest alongside artist Mary J Blige (how does she make her own music despite her music paralysis? Incredible!) to discuss a new advert for the streaming service. In the ad, Blige and two friends make dinner and dance around to Apple Music playlists, and compare the playlists to old-school mixtapes. 

On first watch, it’s charming, if a little stilted: “Go onto my Apple Music playlist!” cries Blige. “Siri, what’s your favourite song?!” But it’s a shame to know it may well have been inspired by prehistoric ideas about women’s decision-making abilities. 

In a statement sent to various news outlets, Iovine apologised for the the slip-up:

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 apologise.