Beats Music has a simple question for mobile carriers: Why not subsidize music rather than hardware? That is, can you sell more phones by offering 20 million songs for free? Beats Electronics co-founder/CEO Jimmy Iovine has told mobile carriers that music, rather than smartphone rebates, can help set them apart from their competitors.

"Why don't you take a chance on giving us $100 rather than giving Samsung $100?" Iovine has asked, according to a person familiar with the conversations.

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