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Trent Reznor’s ‘Beats’ Music Streaming Service Might Be One Step Closer to Skynet

Trent Reznor

Cue up the footage of the Hal 9000 computer melting down warbling “Daisy Bell” at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey. That’s right: Daisy, the code name for a new music streaming service overseen by Trent Reznor on behalf of Beats Electronics, is no more. Instead, the service will more logically be called — wait for it — Beats. And if Jimmy Iovine’s explanation of the platform’s intelligent curation feature is taken at face value, Beats has an alarming computers-as-overlords feel.

According to Billboard, reporting on comments made by the high-end headphone maker’s co-founder (with Dr. Dre) and Interscope Geffen A&M chairman yesterday at a digital media conference in Southern California, Iovine offered a few more details about the service’s previously touted emphasis on what Reznor described to the New Yorker late last year as “intelligent curation.” Beats is “making tons and tons of curated lists,” Iovine is quoted as saying. “If you go to the gym, we’ll know where you are. So when you wake up in the morning, there will be a list waiting for you.” Now pause to consider whether that statement was poorly phrased, or a gentle first step toward overthrowing the human race.

Iovine reportedly said Beats has tapped 100 people to create playlists for every situation under the sun (Reznor’s example: “what a good playlist is for driving through Memphis”). And these aren’t vapid celebrity listmakers, either. “They’re people who know how to make lists,” Iovine said. “They’re real pros.”

Iovine also announced a launch date of this summer for the service, honing in on the previously disclosed late-2013 time frame.

It’s still unclear how much listeners will have to pay for Beats’ service. According to Billboard, Iovine suggested the price will be competitive, saying the company will probably “charge the same thing as everybody else… “$10 a month or whatever it is.”

Beats still aims to differentiate itself by adding a human element to online music streaming. In Iovine’s words, the company seeks to “marry math with emotion. He’s quoted as saying, “Right now, there are only mathematical solutions.”

The new service will arrive as its competitors also look to beef up their music recommendation services. Spotify announced a new “Follow” section during a big press conference where Frank Ocean covered Radiohead. Presumably, Beats’ team of curators will know the perfect Frank Ocean Radiohead cover for every occasion.

Watch highlights from Iovine’s remarks below, or the full session if you have 45 minutes to spare, via conference sponsor AllThingsD: