Eloquently said, technology giant Apple is well aware that its behaviors and services may or may be damaging to a recovering music industry but is defiant in its responses to its critics, even at the expense of its potential results. Simply put, Apple is trying its hardest to irritate everyone and it’s working.
With Frank Ocean’s Blond album at the forefront of popular music business news, we are all familiar with the concept of Apple Music exclusives. What some of us may not be as familiar with is the current backlash against the tech giant’s grand scheme.
As it turns out, Apple Music is a perfect breeding ground for piracy and illegal consumption of music, a clear adversary to music sales; shortly after its release, Frank Ocean’s Blond found itself atop Pirate Bay’s torrent list. Viewed as a competitor of streaming giant Spotify, Apple’s answer to streaming seems only to exist to cause greater tensions with other streaming services, effectively scaring off potential Apple Music exclusive releases, including Britney Spears’ latest album, Glory. The problems have gotten so bad, major label Universal Music Group has ordered the end of all Apple Music exclusives.
However, all of this seems to completely fly under Apple’s radar or over its head, as its CEO has recently vowed to release even more exclusives, proselytizing Apple Music as “the premiere destination for [new and existing] artists to release their exclusive music.”
Personally, I am amazed at how rash Apple’s actions are. While music sales are not the end-all-be-all of revenue in the music industry, when a song loses its ability to generate income, the foundation for profit in the music industry is greatly reduced. Allowing a service to be such a prime space for piracy is nothing short of reckless behavior. Pirated songs are not being bought and they are not being streamed, thus adding further inaccuracy to the charts, cutting into artists’ revenue. For such a “premiere destination,” there are some pretty glaring flaws. Taylor Swift would be appalled.
When it comes to the future of the music business, this definitely foretells of major competition in streaming and general cattiness from major companies in the industry. However, it also spells out an interesting tale of death. Apple Music may be in the perfect position to usurp iTunes from its throne as Apple’s chief music downloading software, rendering the previous program as bloatware. In fact, a few Asian countries have recently rejected iTunes and put in its place Apple Music as their primary music downloading software of choice.
My advice to new artists, I would be more concerned with getting my music on Spotify than Apple Music. Spotify is growing far more quickly, its paid membership more than twice Apple Music’s current premium membership. You may be tempted by the check Apple Music dangles in front of you to release an exclusive in the future. While every situation and artist is different, if you foresee music sales being your only or undisputed most significant source of income, I would hold off going through with an Apple Music exclusive release for now. In fact, this may be one of very few times you find yourself siding with the major labels. iTunes is still a safe bet for now, but, if you do want to sell your music on a broad scope, stay on the lookout for more reliable and forward-thinking platforms.
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Once again, this has been the view from 214.