How Apple hopes to win the streaming war

David Drake, writing for Rolling Stone:

Drake’s “Hotline Bling” video, Taylor Swift’s tour movie and the Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face” have something in common: They’ve all been funded by Apple. The world’s most valuable company has thrown its immense resources into making music videos, concert documentaries and documentaries and, above all, scoring album exclusives. The tech behemoth’s top execs are involved in pop-star projects: Apple CEO Tim Cook had a hand in the production of M.I.A.’s “Borders” video.

“Tim weighed in on that one in particular,” says Larry Jackson, who is in charge of Apple’s original-music content. The most recent major exclusive was Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book, which customers could hear only on Apple Music because Chance has no label and was not selling a download version.


Jackson likes to repeat a story from Iovine: “There are two buzzards sitting on a wire; one buzzard’s sitting up there waiting for something to die; the other buzzard’s saying, ‘Fuck this waiting-to-die shit, let’s go kill something.’ That’s the philosophy. You just have to go and get it done.”

Spotify is the big dog in this game, but Apple has significant resources from which to draw. One way Apple can up their game is by focusing on ways to improve both iTunes and the Apple Music app. Lots of room for improvement, and small changes there will leverage far more than any single exclusive content deal.