*UPDATE: According to Engadget, Apple is apparently also recruiting Dr. Dre and Q-Tip for their DJ initiative. This is getting interesting.
*UPDATE 2 : Billboard confirms that Drake and Pharrell are onboard with Apple. Welp.
The streaming wars are about to heat up this summer, and with Apple’s annual WWDC exactly one week away, it looks like they’re loading up for something big.
The NY Post reports that Apple has been in talks with none other than the God of curatorial swag himself, Drake, for a $19 million deal that would bring him on as “a guest DJ for iTunes Radio, among other things.” The article also mentions that Drake is just one of “a host of artists Apple wants to snag for its huge all-encompassing assault on the music front,” including Pharrell and David Guetta.
This is an interesting new approach, if true, to what Tidal and Beats have seen as a vital marketing peg – exclusives. Apple has to know that these “exclusives” are only exclusive for so long, so by bringing in Drake’s taste set and curatorial expertise, you get something that can’t be replicated.
Furthermore, Apple has been meeting with record labels ahead of WWDC and apparently pushing not only for a 3-month free trial period, but the ability to license music for those three months without the need to pay the rights holders. The Post calls the request “laughable,” as record labels have already been questioning Spotify’s free tier.
It would also make sense if a $19 million deal entailed some new music from the OVO head honcho. Drake dropped If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late out of nowhere on iTunes, and seeing how Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment just dropped their album for free on iTunes (the starpower of Chance The Rapper surely helped there), it’s not hard to imagine Drake making some kind of exclusive deal with Apple for a future release as well.
It looks like Apple is trying to be a hybrid of Spotify, YouTube, and Pandora. They plan to stream music and videos, give artists their own pages, allow a post-it-yourself option à la YouTube called Apple Connect, and of course try to resurrect iTunes Radio.
Most interesting of all, however, is that Drake apparently backed out of a Tidal partnership two days before the steaming company relaunched, according to Andrew Hampp of Billboard. Hampp says Jimmy Iovine has been directly involved with getting artists, such as Drake, away from Tidal and onboard with Apple’s upcoming streaming plans. You can watch that video clip below.