The music streaming giant, which trails only Spotify for market-leadership, has an uneven relationship with its content providers, not least because of the thorny issue of music exclusives. Labels are ice-cold on exclusives, which are considered bad for artists, bad for consumers.
But in a wide-ranging chat with Music Business Worldwide’s Tim Ingham, Apple Music exec Jimmy Iovine says his company has acquiesced to its content providers.
“We tried it. We’ll still do some stuff with the occasional artist. The labels don’t seem to like it and ultimately it’s their content,” he said. “But we’re doing exclusive video content now, and putting a lot of money into that.”
Rewind to last August when Frank Ocean played a killer game of chess with his record company, Universal Music Group. Ocean completed his contractual obligation with the release of his drought-breaking visual album Endless, through an Apple Music video stream and with support from his label. The elusive R&B star called checkmate the next day when he released Blond as an Apple exclusive through Ocean’s own label, Boys Don’t Cry, without UMG’s involvement. Almost immediately, UMG chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge told the heads of his labels that the music giant finished with streaming exclusives on one platform and on a global basis.