Apple is willing to walk that extra mile to grow its music streaming service’s user base, and the Rolling Stone had some spicy details on that. In a new report from the Rolling Stone, Apple Music executives talk how they are planning to make the service more appealing than ever.
Apple’s head of original music content, Larry Jackson, credits Beats co-founder, now Apple employee, Jimmy Iovine and the time spent in his company at Interscope Records for some of the inspiration. Jackson was the person to sign Lana Dey Ray because he believed the artist was made for and by the Internet, so he convinced Interscope to channel her budget into videos rather than spending it on radio promotion.
“We were like, fuck it, let’s just make movies. So we made long-form films – that’s why [Del Rey’s] ‘National Anthem’ is eight minutes long. Without any singles in radio rotation, Born to Die debuted at Number Two on Billboard and went platinum, which Jackson saw as a vindication of his vision.
Jackson notes that even high-profile Apple executives have a word in Apple Music original content. Tim Cook, for example, was involved in the production of M.I.A.’s Borders video.
“Apple is sexy,” says Monte Lipman, head of Republic Records, home to the Weeknd and Ariana Grande. “They are prepared to do things no one has done before. Lately they’ve been very clever in coming to us with what we consider groundbreaking opportunities.” Jackson says that the goal is to put Apple Music “at the intersection of all things relevant in pop culture.” Jackson says that the model is “MTV in its Eighties and Nineties heyday. You always felt that Michael Jackson or Britney Spears lived there. How do you emotionally conjure up that feeling for people?”
While Apple Music is performing well, not everything is going as originally planned. As an example, Iovine brought up Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo: Apple was in talks for exclusive rights to the album, but ultimately West walked away from the deal and handed it over to Tidal which he co-owns with Jay-Z. The album appeared on Apple Music six weeks later.
The fact is, Iovine’s star-focused playbook worked well with Beats headphones. But this time is a bit different according to Larry Kenswil, a former Universal digital exec: “It certainly worked then. But they’re not getting the same kind of publicity on exclusives,” he said. “So the jury’s out.”