Dr. Dre's mysterious Tweet at Jay Z yesterday which said only “Welcome to the jungle @S_C_” has been explained while at the same time offering a clue to Beats Music's possible future business strategy: exclusives.
Welcome to the jungle @S_C_
— Dr. Dre (@drdre) June 14, 2014
A new World Cup Beats ad (below) that ran tonight during game five of the NBA finals featured a Jay Z remix of “Jungle,” a song by the X Ambassadors and Jamie N Commons. The Jay Z rap, which finds the Brooklyn-born rapper dropping Brazilian references like "City of God" and “Christ the Redeemer" before somehow managing to rhyme “Godzilla” with “favellas," is only available exclusively to Beats Music subscribers during its first week of release. The original version of the song appeared in a Beats World Cup short film entitled “The Game Before the Game” that debuted on June 5.
The strategy of Beats releasing music exclusively was a possibility surmised following Apple' $3 billion purchase of Beats on May 28th which also included Beats co-founder and former Interscope Records Chairman Jimmy Iovine joining Apple. In fact, will.i.am, a Beats co-founder with a stake in the company, said in a recent Billboard interview that he had raised that very possibility a year ago to Iovine.
Over the last few years, many artists and labels have temporarily kept their music off streaming services when an album is first brought to market—a practice known as “windowing.” The reasoning behind such a move is that some believe streaming undermines retail and digital download sales and which, at least in the short term, are thought to be more profitable. In this case, however, where Beats Music does not yet have a free streaming service, an exclusive play is likely for the purpose of bolstering subscriptions.
Beats Music, according to Jimmy Iovine at the recent Code conference, has 250,000 subscribers. That number is a fraction of market leader Spotify's paid subscribers which now stands at some 10 million paid users.
No stranger to novel ways of releaseing music, it was almost exactly a year ago that Jay Z announced an exclusive partnership with Samung to release his "Magna Carta Holy Grail" album 72 hours before its release date. The company gave away a million copies of the album.
Beats' new World Cup campaign, according to the company's chief marketing officer Omar Johnson, is the brand's biggest spend and part of a roll out that includes several short-form versions of the larger five minute video directed by Nabil Elderkin (Foals' “Late Night, Bon Iver's “Holocene”). The new ad, which also remixes the video, is part of a series of TV ads that Johnson said will air in more than nine countries and in five different languages.
The World Cup spots also coincide both with Beats' launch of Solo 2, the company’s best-selling headphones. The original “Game Before the Game” now has more than ten million views in the 11 days since its upload to YouTube.
The X Ambassadors are a Brooklyn-based four-piece and Jamie N Commons is a British blues, rock and folk musician. Both acts are signed to Alex Da Kid’s KIDinaKORNER label, a subsidiary of Interscope. The song has been used in the “Welcome to Yesterday” movie trailer and an “Orange is the New Black” spot.