Imagine if in the 1990’s, there were CDs that only played on certain players. In other words, what if Warner Brothers released the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ iconic album, “Blood Sugar Sex Magik”, and it only worked on CD players made by, say, Pioneer? Not only would it harm consumers, but also limit the reach of the artist. If you did not own a Pioneer CD player, you could not hear the album. If a new rumor by the New York Post is to be believed, Apple is planning such a thing, but rather than CD players, its iTunes and Beats Music.
It’s been a while since we’ve heard much about Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre’s Beats Music, but our music industry spies say Iovine is having fresh talks with artists about doing exclusives. Beats executives — now Apple employees — are looking to replicate the kind of success Beyoncé had with her iTunes album, “Beyoncé by Beyoncé,” back in December 2013. Beats already has a bunch of connections with artists including Nicki Minaj, who frequently stars with Beats products in her music videos. Iovine is also good friends with Will.i.am, Pharrell, Kanye West and Gwen Stefani. The idea of artists making their own side deals with streaming services doesn’t go down too well with record label brass, however. It’s been almost a year since Beats Music launched with a brace of Super Bowl spots starring Ellen DeGeneres and a big promotional backing from AT&T. The promotional relationship ended a few months ago, and parties are discussing future deals. “They outperformed expectations in terms of the upsell,” said one source of AT&T.