Once it was artists that streaming services were seeking exclusives with (Beyoncé, Rihanna, Kanye West, Taylor Swift, Drake, Chance The Rapper, Radiohead) and now they are moving onto labels.
Cash Money Records co-founder Birdman announced on Instagram that his label is making “a power move wit @applemusic” followed by a blizzard of hashtags (“#BIG BUSINESS #CASHMONEYRICHGANG #lifestyle #MSGLADYS #RESPEK”). What that power move is remains unclear but Birman tagged Larry Jackson, who is in charge of Apple’s original music content, in the Instagram post. So we can presume it’s official, although Apple – a company not known for a “fast and loose approach” to PR – has still to confirm a) that it’s happening and b) what it will involve. Cash Money was founded in 1991 and is part of Universal and its roster includes Flo Rida, Soulja Boy, Busta Rhymes, Drake (himself no stranger to an Apple partnership) and Nicki Minaj. Oh, and Paris Hilton. Is this a sign of things to come, where powerful and iconic labels/imprints sign up on an exclusive basis to the digital music service with the biggest cheque book? Or is this a testing of the water before a major gives one service first refusal on its biggest releases? That, given their criticisms of retail monopolies, would be a bold and dangerous (and, ergo, unlikely) move, but multiple imprints with tightly defined genre remits doing this might not be totally out of the question.