We alluded to this in yesterday’s story about Sony Music boss Rob Stringer’s comments about Spotify and streaming, but it’s worth a standalone piece. Reports earlier this week of an exclusive playlists partnership between Ministry of Sound and Apple Music have now been confirmed. “All Ministry of Sound playlists and the monthly Ministry Mix – only on Apple Music,” explains Ministry’s curator profile on Apple Music.
15 playlists are currently featured on the profile: Dance Nation, R&B Mixtape, Ibiza Anthems, Rap Mixtape, Slowjamz, Garage Heads, Party People, House Sessions, Chilled, Fitness Freaks, Weekend Warmup, Track Of The Week, Saturday Night, and Grime Heads. Ministry is also providing a monthly ‘Ministry Mix’ DJ mix by its resident DJ GuyMac, which is also featured in its Apple Music profile. Apple Music is giving prominent promo support to the partnership, with an ‘Exclusive’ tag for Ministry’s profile on its Browse homepage, where there are also featured spots for several of the playlists individually.
Earlier reports of the Apple Music deal sparked speculation that Ministry would be removing all these playlists from rival Spotify. It’s true: earlier this week when Music Ally looked, they were all listed as public playlists on Ministry of Sound’s Spotify profile. This morning, they are not: what remains are playlists created for artists signed to Ministry’s label arm, including London Grammar and Sigala.
We’re choosing our language carefully though: Ministry’s playlists still exist on Spotify, albeit not in a form that’s useful for listeners. Search for Dance Nation, for example, and you’ll find a playlist called DN, created by Ministry of Sound, which has no artwork and no tracks – but retains its 270,000+ followers. The same is true for R&B Mixtape (which is now RB, also empty / un-artworked, but keeping its 154,000 followers); for Ibiza Anthems (now IA); Fitness Freaks (now FF) and so on.
That suggests an entirely-sensible strategy for Ministry of Sound of hanging on to the followers of its Spotify playlists, in case it wants to revive them in the future if and when its exclusive partnership with Apple Music comes to an end. For now, though, Ministry – now part of the Sony Music family – is throwing all its curatorial eggs (streaming-wise) into Apple Music’s basket. It’s the latest example of playlist exclusivity from the major-label world: see also Universal Music’s Peaceful Music playlist with Apple.
That reflects the debate around whether Spotify is a positive environment for playlists curated by anyone other than Spotify, as well as Apple’s continued efforts to attract labels and music brands who are concerned about that. And also, dare we say it, reflects labels’ willingness to remind Spotify that they have other partners to work with, in the run-up to its upcoming round of licence-renewal talks.