Record labels hate giving exclusives to streaming services, but they appear to be working when it comes to signing up new paid subscribers. During Apple’s latest product rollout, CEO Tim Cook mentioned that Apple Music was now at 17 million subscribers thanks to over 70 exclusives with artist like Taylor Swift, Frank Ocean and Drake. The service now appears to be growing at just under a million per month.
While exclusives are great for the streaming networks, the rest of the music industry isn’t so sure of the benefits. For one thing, there’s a belief that they cause confusion in the marketplace. What happens is that a listener can readily find the new release from a hit artist on one streaming site, but then gets frustrated when she can’t find it on another. Many consumers apparently don’t care or pay attention to the “exclusive” factor, it seems.
For an artist, exclusives are a mixed bag. They make get a modest cash advance for the privilege, but the big carrot is the promotion that goes along with it, especially with Apple Music. That means not only online hype but traditional promotion on billboards, print and television as well.
A big problem that’s only just raising its head is retaliation from other streaming services over an exclusive. Katy Perry is said to have been deleted from all Spotify playlists and refused promotion over her exclusive with Apple Music, which caused her latest single to fall completely off the radar.
As a result, major labels are said to be putting a hold on the practice of offering exclusives from now on, choosing to take their chances with traditional label promotion instead.
Exclusives may become a thing of the past, but for about a year, they were the hottest thing in music industry and streaming music.