Tim Cook worries “about the humanity being drained out of” music

Apple has been closely tied to music’s journey into the digital realms from the beginning. That journey has gone to many new places, but Apple is still keeping pace with the changes and doing its best to stay ahead of the game. That’s the takeaway from an interview CEO Tim Cook gave to Fast Company about Apple’s position as a tech innovator and where music fits into the picture.

“Music is a service that we think our users want us to provide,” he said. “It’s a service that we worry about the humanity being drained out of. We worry about it becoming a bits-and-bytes kind of world, instead of the art and craft.”

Fast Company asked if Apple was treating streaming music as a source of stand-alone profit. Cook focused on the spiritual and emotional side of music in his response: “We’re not in it for the money. I think it’s important for artists. If we’re going to continue to have a great creative community, [artists] have to be funded.”

Apple was slow out of the gate when it comes to connected speakers, but Cook is still positioning the HomePod as something unique compared with its competitors. “Think about the production that goes into a recording of a song,” he said. “Great artists spend enormous time thinking about every detail. If you get this little squeaky speaker, all of that is gone! All of the art and craft of music is gone. [HomePod] is the realization that that is important. Part of the enjoyment in music is hearing the full sound.”

Some useful context for Cook’s comments. Apple Music has 36 million subscribers and is reporting 5% monthly growth in the United States. The HomePod has been universally praised by reviewers for its audio quality, but sparked critique over Siri integration, no third-party support, and scuffing furniture.

Anna Washenko


  1. News is that iTunes Store to stop working for first-gen Apple TV & older Windows PCs (those running Windows XP or Vista) on May 25.

  2. Yep, Apple did their part to “drain the humanity” out of it when they removed human-curated third party radio stations from iTunes Radio, moved them to “iTunes Internet Radio”, and then eventually removed iTunes Internet Radio, giving would-be iTunes radio listeners no choice but to listen to Apple’s Bland Brands.

    • A lot of those third party radio stations are through platforms such as Live365, Radionomy, etc. Those platforms have apps that you can listen to on your phone, etc. Makes me wonder if people using apps to listen to radio these days is a factor for why Apple decided to remove the third party stations from their iTunes program.

      • I second that about apps changing how we listen to radio. Probably the reason why Microsoft recently removed the radio directory from their Windows Media player.

    • I’ve been using iTunes for downloads and radio for years now. I’m currently on version I recall that they removed the third party stations once before (I think it was version 10) then put them back in either version 11 or 12, under a drop-down menu. However, the listing of stations hasn’t been updated in since Christmas.

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