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Apple Music's Reliance on Exclusives Coming Under Fire From Labels and Critics

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In the wake of the much-anticipated launch of Frank Ocean's new album "Blonde," Universal Music Group CEO Lucian Grainge has sent out an email to UMG executives, saying that the company is prohibiting the practice of exclusive music streaming moving forward (via The Lefsetz Letter). The email officially ends "all future exclusives with Universal artists," meaning popular artists like Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift, and The Weeknd could all be affected by the change since they each belong to labels owned by UMG.


The news was shared by Bob Lefsetz, a music industry analyst and critic, who penned a letter over the weekend in response to Blonde's exclusive home on Apple Music for the first two weeks of its release. Lefsetz said that the heavy reliance of streaming services on exclusive content, and how the practice is becoming increasingly normal among consumers, will ultimately hurt the industry in the long run. Halfway through, he particularly sets his sights on Apple:
Because there's a conspiracy between Apple Music and the industry to change the game, to get everybody to pay for a subscription by putting hit content behind a paywall.

Apple should be investigated by the government for antitrust. How do you compete with the world's richest company that's got endless cash on hand? You can't. It'd be like expecting hillbillies to get into Harvard if slots went to the highest bidder. The rich get richer and the rest of us...we're left out, just like in America at large, [...] the usual suspects doing it for themselves have rigged the game in their favor, and now the music industry is trying to do this too.
According to Lefsetz, Apple's practices not only lock off entire albums to non-subscribers, but grant greater showcase to its exclusive artists -- like the Frank Ocean-centered carousel currently in the app -- consequently hurting the chances for indie musicians to break out. He calls Ocean "complicit" in Apple's schemes, and shames "everybody else who takes money from Apple and screws fans."

With exclusives popping up every few weeks over Apple Music's short fourteen-month lifespan, Kanye West even voiced frustration with the model, hoping to end the fight between Apple Music and Tidal and "let the kids have the music." Among recent artists with an exclusive Apple Music deal are Britney Spears, Frank Ocean, Katy Perry, and Drake.

You can read Lefsetz's full letter here.

Article Link: Apple Music's Reliance on Exclusives Coming Under Fire From Labels and Critics
 

SandboxGeneral

Moderator emeritus
Sep 8, 2010
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Because there's a conspiracy between Apple Music and the industry to change the game, to get everybody to pay for a subscription by putting hit content behind a paywall.

Apple should be investigated by the government for antitrust. How do you compete with the world's richest company that's got endless cash on hand? You can't. It'd be like expecting hillbillies to get into Harvard if slots went to the highest bidder.

Wow, quite the inflammatory letter there he wrote.

I'm not a big fan of the exclusivity of albums on streaming services either, but he could have comported himself a little better.
 

mantan

macrumors 68000
Nov 2, 2009
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Why are the comments sections on this site always such a complete dumpster fire?

Because a lot of people will grab their Apple pom poms and blindly support Apple thinking 'they' are winning.

Apple's original foray into music was great for the consumer. It brought better pricing than the old CD model. But a lot of their recent activity is more 'anti-competition' at the expense (long term and short term) of the consumer.
 

ineedamac

macrumors 6502
Jul 10, 2008
477
157
As far as exclusives, I think they do work for the artist and for the consumer. If there is an artist that has an exclusive on Tidal then I'll just wait patiently for it come everywhere else. Gone are the days of midnight sales for music in my opinion.
 
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tkukoc

Cancelled
Sep 16, 2014
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I could careless about these exclusives.. but I'll say this.. having had been in the music business for over 15 years none of the labels know what they are doing. Every one of them are dinosaurs, even the guys at Apple Music have no clue what they are doing. It's all about the quick buck and not actually building a strong foundation where the artists are top dawg.. not the executives. Apple could eventually make this happen but it's going to take a long long time for people to jump on board with both feet.
 

Small White Car

macrumors G4
Aug 29, 2006
10,924
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Washington DC
Isn't this how tv works? If you want to watch a show, there are a ton of them only available on one channel. In Canada we have to pay a premium to watch Game of thrones as it's only available on one streaming platform.

Yes, but movies are available in multiple theaters and then their Blu-Rays are available in multiple stores and the digital downloads are on multiple sites.

I think people want music to be more like movies than the want it to be like like broadcast TV.
 

gigapocket1

macrumors 68000
Mar 15, 2009
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I like the Tv show comparison above.

But I don't see how this model keeps unknown artists from breaking out? Lol. Secondly... Let the bigger artists that can make money from exclusives make their money lol. Why stop them because they are more successful.

Apple should just buy universal music group lol
 
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