Apple pushes music labels for Beyonce-style exclusives

Apple pushes music labels for Beyonce-style exclusives

Apple is putting the full court press on major music labels to do more exclusive deals like Beyonce's recent arrangement. Apple's reportedly pushing for deals in the wake of slowing download sales. Billboard:

As music download sales decline--digital track sales fell 5.7% from 1.34 billion units to 1.26 billion units in 2013, according to Nielsen SoundScan--Apple is pressing music labels to think about possible windowing strategies as a way to buoy faltering sales.

Beyonce's eponymous album, released in December, was available exclusively through iTunes for its first week. During that week the album sold one million copies online. So it's easy to understand why Apple wants more deals like that.

Apple isn't trying to fight with other download services as much as it is with streaming services like Spotify, which are finally biting hard into download sales as more and more people get comfortable with the technology. Apple's moving in that direction with iTunes Radio, as well, but its bread and butter is still music download sales, so it's doing whatever it can to bolster that business.

Have you begun to use iTunes Radio, Spotify or another streaming service in place of music downloads? Let me know in the comments.

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Peter Cohen

Mac Managing Editor of iMore and weekend Apple Product Professional at a local independent Apple reseller. Follow him on Twitter @flargh

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Reader comments

Apple pushes music labels for Beyonce-style exclusives


I use those services like radios of old (like me!), but I still buy CDs if I want a whole album or full .wav files, or download tracks from iTunes when I just want one tune.

I left iTunes long ago. I did like the a windows experience and preferred physical CDs. After iTunes I bought my CDs from Amazon and then started buying MP3s from them. The UI was horrible but I liked the standard digital format. Once Amazon and Google launched their cloud music services I migrated the music from my collection into the cloud. The Amazon cloud has all my Amazon purchases and most everything else went into the Google cloud.

Once Google launched their music streaming service I joined. I no longer buy music from the labels. I stream. I also listen to a lot more music. The only time I buy CDs or downloads is to support the independent artists I like.

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Strong possibility. I'm 32, work with people mostly 10 years younger, and they hate today's tunes. They also have no interest in buying music for the most part.


I think it's a combination of things. For studios, there simply aren't the revenue they used to get from cd sales or full album sales regardless of format. So they have no incentive to invest in speculative artists, less than mainstream artists. Typically the general studio deal is they pay for studio time and promoting the album. But why do it when full albums no longer sell. So labels make music that sells the most. And what sells the most? Justin Beiber. There are exceptions but pretty much an any genre it's the cookie cutter mainstream crap that sells and unfortunately that's all that gets made.

Still buy downloads as well as using Spotify to discover new music. Streaming doesn't work consistently enough while moving about to replace owning the mp3 file. Also I want the smart playlist features that iTunes brings. Kids just use streaming though.

I continue to purchase based on what I can afford - if I can afford to buy, great, but if I cannot afford to buy, oh well!

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Ever since Spotify became available in my country I became a premium user and I'm never going back - it is exactly the way I want to listen to music.

I can't stand iTunes. Restoring my previous purchases is so difficult and I always email iTunes support and they do it for me. The PC app is pure hell. I'm never installing it again. Ever.

Spotify is pleasure to use!

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A good strategy to keep people coming to the iTunes Store. I only buy music on the iTunes Store. There are only a few artist that I will buy full albums, but everything else is singles.

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Justin BIEBER had an iTunes only album that came out December 23,2013 called Journals

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What they oughta do is get more good musicians on there. Get U2 to put out more singles on iTunes.

Maybe start dealing with musicians directly rather than going through the labels? Screw those dinosaurs, if I were an up and coming musician, I'd talk directly to Apple.

I use Google Music All Access for everything unless the album I want is not on there, in which case I buy it (i.e. Eric Church - The Outsiders album)

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I've never liked the subscription model. I'm old school I like to own what I pay for.

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I agree with you. I've never understood paying a monthly fee, then more than likely in my case, paying overage fees on my internet bill, because I listen to A LOT of music. And I want to have it with me where ever I am without worrying if I've got a wifi connection or a cell tower for my data plan to be depleted. I've also gotten back into vinyl again as well, so I'm more old school when it comes to listening to music. I don't buy CDs anymore unless what I want isn't on the iTunes store (which rarely happens), so I buy complete albums from iTunes. Unfortunately I don't like the way the music industry in all it's permutations has gone.

It's not streaming services that are slowing download purchases it's that the music isn't great. Labels put out crap mostly. I don't stream music. I've tried many services. I have a few apps on my phone but i play my own music 99.99% of the time. Beats was the best service i've used during the trial but i can't justify paying at all to stream music. Truth is i've got a better library on a hard drive than most music services, Beats included. I searched an artists and plenty of albums ween't there. Worse for underground artists. Not to mention, these days many artists release on mixtape sites because music sales make them no money. They make money doing shows. And many streaming sites are out of touch and have none of that content. Plus the reality is i want to hear what i want to hear on command. i don't want a radio like experience.

Beyonce can do that. Release an album with zero publicity and be like "Bow down bishes." There are only so many artists that can do that and make it fly. They'll have to be very well known.