After finding success with the exclusive sales model used last year to launch Beyonce’s latest album, iTunes is aggressively pressing labels to offer more releases in the same vein.
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Beyonce success spurs desire for more iTunes exclusives

beyonce

After finding success with the exclusive sales model used last year to launch Beyonce’s latest album, iTunes is aggressively pressing labels to offer more releases in the same vein. Such a strategy would ask labels to delay releasing new music via other sales channels and through music streaming services, including YouTube.

Beyonce’s album sold 1 million copies during its first week, in which it was offered as an iTunes exclusive. Fans also were limited to buying the album as a whole, with individual track downloads not becoming available until after that initial period. Streaming services were limited in the number of tracks from the new album they had access to, while no full-length videos appeared on YouTube. The album’s initial success was also spurred on by Beyonce’s choice to release it with little to no promotion leading up to its availability.

Apple is seeking such exclusive release agreements in order to keep consumers from moving away from iTunes. Last year, sales dropped 5.7 percent as listeners continue to turn toward subscription-based services like Spotify. While Apple offers its own streaming music platform, iTunes Radio, it does not offer on-demand playback of specific tracks.

The talks between Apple and labels are said to be tense, and the iTunes team led by Robert Kondrk is willing to make some concessions. Apple is OK with the idea of artists releasing their albums on multiple digital download services, but remains adamant in its efforts to cut streaming services out of the loop during initial sales periods. The strategy makes sense when considering Apple’s desire to retain download sales, but certainly puts labels in a tough spot when negotiating with streaming services. Such services are already a point of contention for artists and labels as they attempt to negotiate fair prices for licenses to stream music.

While no other artists have followed Byeonce’s lead, Kid Cudi’s latest release Satellite Fight did launch as an exclusive purchase via multiple digital storefronts while delaying streaming availability. The idea appears to be catching on, especially for those seeking the bottom dollar of the deal. Streaming platforms, however, likely aren’t so keen to the idea of being cut out of the equation.

[via Billboard]

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