A year ago, when we talked about “exclusives” and streaming services, most of the discussion focused around individual albums: would one service get the Beyoncé or Kanye or Taylor or Adele album leaving its rivals out in the cold?
While that has happened a few times – ‘The Life of Pablo’ on Tidal most obviously – the anticipated exclusives war has failed to materialise beyond the odd one-week headstart.
Something more interesting has happened though: the notion of what an “exclusive” might be for music-streaming has shifted towards original video content.
Apple is at the forefront of this particular trend, from the virtual reality (VR) videos it has commissioned for U2, The Weeknd and Muse through to Taylor Swift’s concert documentary late last year. This week, we got our latest glimpse at how the strategy is evolving.
First, Apple has teamed up with Vice to make a six-part documentary series called The Score, focusing on music’s role within some larger social themes, from the Native American population to racial tensions in South Africa.
Meanwhile, Apple has also just announced plans to make a documentary series about the apps world, with Will I Am and veteran TV producer Ben Silverman. Add these to the Vital Signs original TV show starring Apple staffer Dr Dre, which was reported earlier this year.
Some of these projects are more interesting than others: the apps series sounds more like marketing, although we’ll obviously reserve judgement until we’ve seen it. But the idea of music-streaming services exploring original programming around music is something we’re looking forward to much more.
Apple has The Score and Vital Signs on the way; Spotify has recently recruited former VH1 president Tom Calderone for a head of content partnerships role where original shows may loom large; Vevo is thinking about its potential beyond music videos; and YouTube Red could also have an interest in this area.
We’re wary of getting over-excited and predicting that the music-streaming world will find its Serial, its Making a Murderer or its House of Cards within the next few months.
But in a world where our big streaming services are becoming more than just audio, and where ‘music video’ is more than just music videos, there is plenty of potential.