Apple Music’s Zane Lowe was one of the SXSW keynotes this week, and his speech included a reference to the ‘storytelling’ theme that’s been a feature of several recent industry conferences.

“There are no stories to be told on a playlist alone. Artists want their music to inspire and catch fire and to mean something,” said Lowe, who worried that “the problem for me, the music fan, is that there’s not a lot of conversation about music”.

That reflects the thinking of a growing number of music marketers: that it’s more important than ever for artists to get their ‘stories’ across to listeners, to make them care about the music; but that the familiar streaming-playlist format doesn’t make that easy (although see today’s story on Spotify for more on this point).

“Artists no longer need a hit record to thrive… the emphasis is on great ideas that build alongside great music,” said Lowe. “We don’t just love the music. We love the artist.”

While this was in part an argument for the power of live radio like Beats 1, we hope this year’s iOS update may bring some new Apple Music features that help with these challenges too.

In separate news, Billboard is reporting that Drake’s new ‘More Life’ album (well, mixtape) may not be exclusive to Apple Music, with both Amazon and Spotify hinting that they will have it at launch too.

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