Apple Music's Reliance on Exclusives Coming Under Fire From Labels and Critics

In the wake of the much-anticipated launch of Frank Ocean's new album "Blonde," Universal Music Group CEO Lucian Grainge has sent out an email to UMG executives, saying that the company is prohibiting the practice of exclusive music streaming moving forward (via The Lefsetz Letter). The email officially ends "all future exclusives with Universal artists," meaning popular artists like Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift, and The Weeknd could all be affected by the change since they each belong to labels owned by UMG.

apple music ios 10 update
The news was shared by Bob Lefsetz, a music industry analyst and critic, who penned a letter over the weekend in response to Blonde's exclusive home on Apple Music for the first two weeks of its release. Lefsetz said that the heavy reliance of streaming services on exclusive content, and how the practice is becoming increasingly normal among consumers, will ultimately hurt the industry in the long run. Halfway through, he particularly sets his sights on Apple:

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, [...] 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.

According to Lefsetz, Apple's practices not only lock off entire albums to non-subscribers, but grant greater showcase to its exclusive artists -- like the Frank Ocean-centered carousel currently in the app -- consequently hurting the chances for indie musicians to break out. He calls Ocean "complicit" in Apple's schemes, and shames "everybody else who takes money from Apple and screws fans."

With exclusives popping up every few weeks over Apple Music's short fourteen-month lifespan, Kanye West even voiced frustration with the model, hoping to end the fight between Apple Music and Tidal and "let the kids have the music." Among recent artists with an exclusive Apple Music deal are Britney Spears, Frank Ocean, Katy Perry, and Drake.

You can read Lefsetz's full letter here.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
51 months ago
But when Tidal did it, it was "OK"? Was that because they didn't have the numbers apple music has? :rolleyes:
Score: 56 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
51 months ago
Why are the comments sections on this site always such a complete dumpster fire?
Score: 48 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
51 months ago
Isn't this how tv works? If you want to watch a show, there are a ton of them only available on one channel. In Canada we have to pay a premium to watch Game of thrones as it's only available on one streaming platform.
Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
51 months ago
Yeah, you tell them man! Let's also cry because Game of Thrones is an HBO-exclusive and not on Netflix as well. HBO "should be investigated by the government for antitrust", right?
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
51 months ago
Publishers with no creativity except with regard to finance make millions off actual artists... and scream when others make money off them too. Too bad. "Exclusive" for 2 weeks? So? I won't be crying for music publishers or labels, ever.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
51 months ago

Why are the comments sections on this site always such a complete dumpster fire?

Because a lot of people will grab their Apple pom poms and blindly support Apple thinking 'they' are winning.

Apple's original foray into music was great for the consumer. It brought better pricing than the old CD model. But a lot of their recent activity is more 'anti-competition' at the expense (long term and short term) of the consumer.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple Warns Against Closing MacBooks With a Cover Over the Camera

Friday July 10, 2020 11:12 am PDT by
Apple this month published a support document that warns customers against closing their Mac notebooks with a cover over the camera as it can lead to display damage. Image via Reddit Apple says that the clearance between the display and the keyboard is designed to very tight tolerances, which can be problematic. Covering the camera can also cause issues with automatic brightness and True Tone....

Leaker: 'iPhone 12 Pro' to Come With 6GB of RAM

Friday July 10, 2020 1:59 am PDT by
Later this year, Apple is expected to release four OLED iPhones in three display sizes, including 5.4, 6.7, and two 6.1-inch models. Rumors suggest the 6.7-inch iPhone and one 6.1-inch model will be higher-end devices, and now leaker @L0vetodream has corroborated previous rumors about the internal specs of Apple's upcoming lineup. Rumors suggest Apple will use 5-nanometer A14 chips in its...

Apple Moving Forward on Semitransparent Lenses for Upcoming AR Headset

Friday July 10, 2020 7:24 am PDT by
Apple and Foxconn have reached a key milestone in the development of Apple's long-rumored augmented reality headset, with the semitransparent lenses for the device moving from prototype to trial production, reports The Information. Apple is developing the lenses on a single production line at a Foxconn factory in Chengdu in southwestern China, where most of Apple’s iPad production is...

Kuo: Apple Silicon Macs to Include 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air This Year, 14.1-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro Models Next Year

Friday July 10, 2020 2:58 am PDT by
At last month's WWDC, Apple officially announced that its Mac computers will be transitioned from Intel x86 to homegrown Apple Silicon chips. Apple said it plans to deliver the first Apple Silicon Mac by the end of the year and complete the transition in about two years. According to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, a 13.3-inch MacBook Pro with a form factor similar to the current 13.3-inch...

Arm-Intel-PowerPC Universal Binaries Are Possible

Saturday July 11, 2020 1:42 pm PDT by
Casual MacRumors visitors may not realize that we have a very active PowerPC forum where users discuss issues related to PowerPC Macs that have not been produced since 2006. Threads range from hardware upgrades and software options to nostalgia: Photo by AphoticD Apple's recently announced transition to Apple Silicon (Arm) based Macs raised some interesting questions about future support...

iPhone 12 Sizes Compared with iPhone SE, 7, 8, SE 2, X, 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max [Update]

Tuesday July 7, 2020 6:49 pm PDT by
Apple is planning on launching the iPhone 12 this fall which is rumored to be coming in 3 different sizes: 5.4", 6.1" and 6.7". The middle size (6.1") matches up with the currently shipping iPhone 11, but the other two sizes will be entirely new. Over the weekend, there was some excitement about how well the new 5.4" iPhone 12 compares to the original iPhone SE. Those who have been hoping...

Tom Hanks WWII Movie 'Greyhound' Debuts on Apple TV+

Friday July 10, 2020 3:33 am PDT by
Apple TV+ today debuted "Greyhound," the highly anticipated Second World War movie starring Tom Hanks as a naval officer given command of Navy destroyer Greyhound in the Battle of the Atlantic. "Greyhound" features Hanks as George Krause, who must fight his own self doubts and personal demons as he leads a convoy of Allied ships against German U-boats to prove that he belongs in command. ...

Top Stories: iOS 14 Public Beta, iPhone 12 Size Comparison, 14-Inch MacBook Pro Rumors

Saturday July 11, 2020 6:00 am PDT by
After one round of developer beta testing, Apple unleashed iOS and iPadOS 14 to a wider audience this week, opening it up to members of the public beta program. There are lots of changes and new features to check out, but as with any beta, be careful about installing it on your main devices. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Other major stories this week included our ...

Hands-On With tvOS 14: Picture in Picture, 4K YouTube, HomeKit and More

Thursday July 9, 2020 12:48 pm PDT by
Apple at WWDC introduced a new version of tvOS, the software that's designed to run on the fourth and fifth-generation Apple TV models. tvOS updates are often more minor in scale than iOS, watchOS, and macOS updates, but tvOS 14 has some useful new features. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Apple in tvOS 13 introduced a Picture in Picture option for the Apple TV...

Apple CEO Tim Cook's 2019 Compensation Totaled Over $133 Million

Friday July 10, 2020 12:01 pm PDT by
Apple CEO Tim Cook was the second highest paid CEO in the United States in 2019, according to Bloomberg's list of the highest paid CEOs and executives in 2019. Cook received compensation totaling $133,727,869 by Bloomberg's count. Almost all of Cook's compensation was provided in the form of stock awards and related performance bonuses. As reported by the SEC earlier this year, Cook received ...