This week news broke that Drake’s upcoming album, “Views from the 6,” would be an Apple Music “exclusive.”
This seemed like a huge win for Apple, which signed a (reportedly) $19 million contract with Drake last year, but had so far only gotten a one-week window of exclusive Drake music. The fact that the album was being specifically touted as an “exclusive” suggested that window might be longer this time around.
Not so, Apple confirmed to BuzzFeed’s Brendan Klinkenberg. “Views from the 6” will only be an Apple Music exclusive for one week, putting it on par with Rihanna’s exclusive window on Tidal.
The idea of exclusive windows has been hotly debated in the music streaming industry over the past few months.
Jay Z’s service Tidal, in particular, has shown both the pros and cons. Kanye’s new album, which was a Tidal exclusive for over a month, rocketed Tidal up the app download charts to the top spot. But the release also served to remind the industry that people hadn’t forgot how to pirate music: Kanye’s album was downloaded illegally 500,000 times on its first day alone. This suggests that while Kanye’s album did its job in driving interest for Tidal, it left some pirate money on the table.
Spotify, the most prominent music service at 30 million paying subscribers, has come out swinging against exclusive releases.
“We’re not really in the business of paying for exclusives, because we think they’re bad for artists and they’re bad for fans,” Jonathan Prince, Spotify’s head of communications told The Verge. “Artists want as many fans as possible to hear their music, and fans want to be able to hear whatever they’re excited about or interested in — exclusives get in the way of that for both sides. Of course, we understand that short promotional exclusives are common and we don’t have an absolute policy against them, but we definitely think the best practice for everybody is wide release.”
Pandora, while not as critical as Spotify, has not embraced exclusives in the same way as Tidal and Apple Music.
Pandora CPO Chris Phillips told Business Insider that when he thinks about exclusives, it’s mostly around things like live events, not recordings. “I do think that there’s an opportunity, for example, to have a live-streaming event that could be kind of exclusively on a platform,” he said.
But as far as having an album that exclusively exists on one streaming service, Phillips doesn’t think it makes much sense for artists.
“I think on the artist incentive side, it’s pretty tough to keep your music on just one service, because you’re limiting your reach, especially if you’re a new artist.”