Global head of business development and music partnerships, Apple
Global creative director/host, Apple Music
Global creative director, Apple Music
Global director of original content, Apple Music
Global director of editorial, Apple Music
50 MILLION PAID SUBSCRIBERS: “We don’t actually wake up and look at our growth rate,” says Apple Music’s new commander-in-chief, Oliver Schusser, not entirely convincingly. After all, under his leadership, the on-demand streaming service reached a new milestone -- 50 million paid subscribers across 115 countries -- in just its third full year of operation.
Schusser’s April promotion (and Jimmy Iovine’s transition to a consulting role) also signaled a new chapter in the evolution of the world’s No. 2 streaming platform with Schusser’s core leadership team of Amanda Marks, Bebhinn Gleeson, Rachel Newman, Larry Jackson and Zane Lowe all rising to global roles.
“We’re just at the beginning,” says Schusser, citing the tech giant’s recently completed acquisitions of Shazam and indie artist-services company Platoon, as well as its January mobile integration deal with Verizon, as evidence of Apple Music’s “truly global” ambitions.
When it comes to programming, Schusser says he is “deeply worried” about the domination of algorithms in streaming and encourages his team to “hand-curate” everything on the platform. Jackson and Lowe have formed a new artist-relations department, and Lowe will also continue to host and lead Beats 1’s direction, including programming hosted by Nicki Minaj, Travis Scott and Billie Eilish. Marks, Gleeson and Newman respectively head business development, original content and editorial initiatives, such as Apple Music’s developing-artist platform, Up Next, which in 2018 gave a boost to rapper Juice WRLD, R&B singer H.E.R. and Puerto Rican trap star Bad Bunny, who became Apple’s most-streamed Latin artist on the heels of his Drake-assisted hit, “MIA” -- the first all-Spanish-language song to crown Apple Music’s U.S. Top Songs chart.
Drake also figures in what Schusser calls the high-water mark of Apple Music’s 2018. His LP, Scorpion, became the first to generate 1 billion streams globally in a single week and scored the biggest first day of release numbers in Apple Music’s history: 170 million streams. Says Schusser: “It broke every record.”