By pre-adding an album, subscribers can save it in their Apple Music libraries and listen to any songs that may already be out for it. Then, when the full album is released Apple adds the entire album to their account.
Although this process can be unreliable on Apple Music, and sometimes the full album isn't added at the time of its release, Apple Music executive Oliver Schusser sees pre-adds as a sort of modern pre-order feature for the streaming era. Schusser said that, "While most services focus the majority of their efforts around playlists, Apple Music still emphasizes albums because we understand their value as a storytelling tool for artists to create context around their music."
“To that end, pre-adds are great early indicators of engagement around an artist and the intention of the fans. To actively pre-add an album, much like the pre-order we invented with iTunes, means that the fan is excited about the content and wants to be among the first to enjoy it the moment its available. That kind of engagement is very valuable to an artist and to us.”Apple has been a longtime supporter of Eilish, first featuring her as the Up Next artist for September 2017, showcasing her in interviews with Beats 1 Radio hosts, exclusively premiering some of her songs and videos, and partnering with her to host her own Beats 1 show. Apple also worked with Eilish on its holiday commercial "Share Your Gifts" last year, where her single "Come Out and Play" was featured.
He added: “For Billie in particular it’s really exciting because she is such a big part of the Apple artist community and someone the whole company has really rallied around. It’s amazing to see the positive reaction from our subscribers.”
Eilish's team also commented on the pre-add numbers, with Interscope vice chairman Steve Berman stating, "These pre-add numbers are incredibly exciting for Billie, and a real validation of everything we – the artist, Darkroom, Apple and Interscope – have worked together on over the last three years. Internally, hearing these [Apple pre-add] results, it makes us all incredibly proud – and it makes us want to work that much harder, because we can see exactly what the opportunity is."
According to Schusser, the criticism that streaming music services have taken the personality out of artists is incorrect, and he points toward Eilish as the prime example: "Apple has always given creators platforms to connect with audiences around the world and the space and freedom to be creative. It goes to the core of who we are as a company."