Apple Pushing Record Labels for More Exclusive Beyonce-Like iTunes Albums

Apple's iTunes chief Robert Kondrk met with record label executives during Grammy Week in January about the potential of more exclusive album releases, like Beyoncé's iTunes-exclusive album last December, according to Billboard.

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Apple Inc.’s music chief Robert Kondrk has been pressuring major labels for releases similar to last year's Beyonce exclusive, excluding services like YouTube and Spotify to help shore up slowing download sales, according to music executives familiar with the conversations.

While digital music track sales fell from 1.34 billion units to 1.24 billion units in 2013 due to the rise of streaming services like Spotify and YouTube, Beyoncé's album sold 1 million copies globally in a week iTunes alone.

Kondrk is using the album's success to sell label executives on the prospect of exclusively releasing albums on digital storefronts like iTunes. He told executives the exclusives don't have to be limited to iTunes as long as they weren't on streaming services like Spotify. The move would be to preserve sales on digital storefronts.

Finally, Kondrk asked executives if they could lock down individual track sales until after a certain window of time, which would then allow users to purchase individual music tracks and listen to albums on streaming services. This is in stark contrast to Steve Jobs' sell of unbundled legal access to music when the iTunes Music Store was introduced in 2003.

In January, it was reported that digital music sales declined year-over-year for the first time since the opening of the iTunes Music Store as more users opt for streaming services such as Spotify, Rdio, Pandora and iTunes Radio.

Top Rated Comments

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87 months ago
I know a lot of people use iTunes and like it a lot, but I really don't like the idea of exclusives like this, even if I do have an iPad now. I don't like the idea of one company having so much control over something like music.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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87 months ago
iTunes feels like more of a dinosaur than AOL did by the early 2000s. AOL at least tried to keep up with the times for a while.

Apple's problem with services is rooted in the way they approach products in general. It takes Apple an enormous amount of time and resources to come out with a product. When they finally come out with it, it's well-polished. But it never really changes after that. Apple lets the product waste away, and eventually it's supplanted by something else. With iTunes you can see that Apple has tried to make updates, but those updates have turned iTunes into a mess, and the core iTunes Store experience hasn't changed. I would say it's gotten worse. Searching is incredibly unwieldy across apps, books, and music, and can't compete with the convenience of streaming unlimited content. Apple has never gotten Internet services. They've shuttered all the online services they've ever created except for iTunes. They didn't improve .Mac; they shut it down. They didn't improve MobileMe; they shut it down. They had to send out OS update discs just to get people to migrate their e-mail to iCloud. Who else has an e-mail service that is reliant on a particular OS?

It seems like iTunes is a chore to them and has been barely kept alive in order to remain compatible with all the devices they sell. If Windows is Microsoft's legacy product it has to maintain for past compatibility, Apple's equivalent is iTunes. But the original iTunes and original iTunes Store were both amazing. It just seems that Apple can't do things well until they scrap something and start over.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
87 months ago

I don't like the idea of one company having so much control over something like music.


I don't like the idea of one company having so much control over anything. Monopolies hurt the consumer.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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87 months ago
We should push iTunes to be more like Spotify/Netflix.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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87 months ago

I don't like the idea of one company having so much control over anything. Monopolies hurt the consumer.

You mean a monopoly for 7 days? That's how long Beyonce's album was exclusive to iTunes.

Exclusivity deals lock a label into only one revenue stream for their content, so the deal must be more financially rewarding than selling the music to every other platform.

You mean like the exclusivity ATT had on the iPhone for years? Exclusivity brings in money short term, then you open yourselves up to other platforms to gain money long term. Pretty sure Apple knows what it's doing here.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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87 months ago
It'd be interesting if they tried something similar with app developers…

Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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