Apple is planning a relaunch of Beats Music sometime in the summer. In order to be prepared to compete against Spotify and other music streaming services, Apple is eyeing up exclusive partnerships with Taylor Swift, Florence and the Machine and a dozen other high profile artists.
The deals sound similar to Tidal’s exclusivity deals, putting the album on Apple’s service three days before it releases on other platforms. Apple might also be looking at permanent exclusivity deals for streaming rights, for a higher price.
Even though Tidal has already captured a good section of the talent in the industry, including Daft Punk, Rihanna, Madonna and Deadmau5, some of these artists will not be exclusive to Tidal, especially if the music streaming service fails to take off.
That is where Apple has the upper hand. It will not offer musicians a share in the company, it will offer them slightly higher rates than what Spotify and Tidal are offering, with the millions of iPhone and iPad owners to hopefully back them up when Beats Music relaunches.
Apple’s proposition does sound a lot more lucrative than Jay Z’s pet project, which in spite of what some people think, could collapse within the next six months into nothing. Reports say Tidal still has less than 100,000 subscribers willing to pay $9.99 per month (£9.99) for low-quality audio and a small library of artists.
Beats Music will apparently feature a $7.99 (£6.99) per month option for customers, undercutting Spotify, Tidal and Rdio. It will also feature a $14.99 (£12.99) family option allowing connected iTunes accounts to share one streaming account.
It is not clear if Apple will rebrand or potentially merge Beats Music with iTunes. Downloads are down year-on-year for iTunes and iTunes Radio is not doing anything special, if Apple wants to make a real statement they could integrate all three into the iTunes app.
Streaming music is still a very small part of the industry, only making $2 billion (£1.3 billion) out of the total $15 billion (£10.2 billion) made in 2013. Artists are upset with the downturn in sales figures - in 1999 sales were at $40 billion (£27.3 billion) - what some artists now call the golden age of music.