Apple’s strategy to attract more subscribers to its music streaming service via exclusives has just taken a hit: in an email sent out to Universal Music Group executives, CEO Lucian Grainge said the company is putting an end to exclusive contracts with streaming services starting today (via MacRumors).
The news comes from Bob Lefsetz, a music industry analyst and critic, who wrote a letter voicing his opinion about exclusive contracts and how it affects the music industry in the wake of the highly anticipated launch of Frank Ocean’s new album “Blonde”. The artist has signed a contract with Apple so the album will only be available on Apple Music for the first two weeks after the launch.
In the letter published during the weekend, Lefsetz says the use of exclusive content to force users pay for streaming services will ultimately hurt the music industry:
Because there’s a conspiracy between Apple Music and the industry to change the game, to get everybody to pay for a subscription by putting hit content behind a paywall.
Apple should be investigated by the government for antitrust. How do you compete with the world’s richest company that’s got endless cash on hand? You can’t. It’d be like expecting hillbillies to get into Harvard if slots went to the highest bidder. The rich get richer and the rest of us…we’re left out, just like in America at large, which is why Bernie and Trump got traction, the usual suspects doing it for themselves have rigged the game in their favor, and now the music industry is trying to do this too.
Lefsetz says Frank Ocean is complicit in Apple’s scheme, and so is every artist who takes money from Apple and “screw fans.”
The new UMG policy of prohibiting exclusives is a likely reaction to Lefsetz’s letter and will likely affect popular artists like Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd, and others since they belong to labels owned by UMG.