Apple Music's partnership with Frank Ocean resulted in one of the three major labels curbing the practice of exclusive releases to single streaming services (because of an inspired trick), but to Apple's Jimmy Iovine, it's all been a learning experience — and one they're going to keep "feeling" out.
"We put a lot into this, we've had some real successes, and we always hold up our end of the relationship," Iovine said in a recent interview with Buzzfeed. "We're feeling our way around and seeing what works… Every time we do [an exclusive], we learn something new."
What they did learn by striking a deal with Ocean — releasing video album Endless to fulfill his Def Jam deal, followed by the long-anticipated "proper" album Blonde, via his own imprint — was that Ocean's label group, Universal Music, did not seem to appreciate its disruptiveness. UMG's Lucian Grainge reportedly took umbrage to the move and informed label heads that Universal was done with streaming exclusives on one platform.
Iovine, who co-founded Interscope Records, a division of UMG, has signaled that Apple Music will continue its pursuit of exclusives with the other majors, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group. "It's Apple's show," he told the site. "As long as Apple's asking me to do what I'm doing, I'm gonna keep doing it."
Asked whether he felt digital services were shooting themselves in the foot by relying on exclusives as a key enticer for new subscribers, Iovine urged patience, suggesting that it could eventually be common for people to pay for more than one service (like they do with TV streaming). "A year from today could look extremely different from what it looks like right now," he said.
Video is another big initiative for Apple Music, and on Monday night it announce a huge "get" for the first episode of Mary J. Blige's series The 411: Hillary Clinton. Watch a teaser for the show, coming Sept. 30:
— Apple Music (@AppleMusic) September 27, 2016
You Can Call Me Al(gorithm)
Apple Music recently announced it had 17 million subscribers, compared to Spotify's 40 million. The recent changes to Apple Music brought on by iOS 7 have been well documented, but the addition of two new personalized playlists — My Favorites Mix and My New Music Mix — shows that it's paying attention to one of its chief rivals' core strengths: customized, algorithm-based playlists.
The fact that the new playlists are algorithmically generated is a first first for Apple Music, which since launching 14 months ago has instead relied on human curators (and the influential Beats 1) for discovery. Apple claims a potential advantage over Spotify in playlisting because in addition to taking into account a users’ listener history on Apple Music, the service also looks at years of iTunes data. "If you gave high ratings to a song or album in your old iTunes library, or just played it a lot more than others, you’ll find that behavior reflected in your My Favorites Mix," the report explained.
Apple said more personalized playlists are coming. The revelation comes as Spotify continues to develop and expand its slate of customized-for-you collections. On Tuesday (Sept. 27) the Sweden-based service announced a new, continuously updated series of playlists called Daily Mix, which combines frequently played songs with potential new favorites.
Plus: Jimmy Iovine on Working With John Lennon, David Bowie & Bruce Springsteen