Apple Music is moving away from album exclusives

Photo by Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Apple Music is cutting back on one of its defining characteristics: album exclusives. In a recent interview with Music Business Worldwide, Apple exec Jimmy Iovine said that the streaming service plans to be less aggressive about obtaining exclusives in the future. “We tried it,” he said. “We’ll still do some stuff with the occasional artist. The labels don’t seem to like it and ultimately it’s their content.”

Back in 2016, The Wall Street Journal reported that labels were losing enthusiasm for streaming service exclusives, which they felt could be detrimental to an album’s overall streaming numbers. If a new album was only available on one particular platform for the first two weeks of its existence, as Apple Music’s exclusives were, it could result in lost revenue for labels.

After Frank Ocean released his much-anticipated album Blonde independently on Apple Music last year, the CEO of Universal Music Group reportedly told the company’s labels to stop making exclusive deals with streaming networks. As Business Insider points out, Kanye West was also vocally against exclusives. Last year he tweeted that the streaming wars were “fucking up the music game.”

In the past, musicians who signed exclusives with Apple Music were given a big marketing push, but it’s hard to quantify how effective it was at drawing listeners, especially since Apple has a much smaller subscriber base than Spotify. In 2016, Drake’s Views broke several records as an Apple Music exclusive, but Drake has consistently been a top-played artist on Spotify as well.

Still, Apple Music isn’t entirely done with exclusives. Iovine notes that the service will still do “some” streaming exclusives, and that Apple is putting “a lot of money” into exclusive video now.

Comments

I’m sure this will still happen, but with tracks again. Like in the old days it was Best Buy version of the album had one exclusive bonus track, while on iTunes there was another exclusive track, and Target had the exclusive album packaging, but no exclusive bonus track. .

Like in the old days it was Best Buy version of the album

This still happens today, lol. I see it occasionally with some albums but not like 10 years ago.

Also annoying to see exclusive tracks on international versions.

Yes, that too, and then you try to find it only see it be region locked.

Good. I’m an Apple Music subscriber and I think exclusives are no bueno for anyone.

Yeah I agree. I can see why they tried it though… exclusive album = people using the free trial and then potentially sticking around afterwards.

I think all an artist really needs to do for a marketing push is get their music into an Apple commercial. I am always searching for the music they choose. I do the same thing for certain shows like Silicon Valley and previously Chuck because their music directors are incredible IMO. I never understood why there always seem to be battles over music licensing rights when including songs in whole or part in any show or movie is usually beneficial for the artist, even ones who are established.

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