Apple Inc is introducing a programme to promote young musicians with a month-long barrage of videos, playlists and new music, deepening the technology giant’s direct investment in artistes through Apple Music.
The first performer to benefit from the Up Next programme is 6lack, a 24-year-old Atlanta singer who released his debut album last fall. On April 20, Apple released a short documentary about 6lack, as well as video of a live recording session taped in Atlanta and an interview on Beats 1, Apple Music’s radio station.
Beats 1 host Zane Lowe will introduce 6lack (pronounced “black”) on James Corden’s late-night talk show Thursday evening on CBS, and over the course of the next month, Apple will promote 6lack’s songs on Apple Music playlists, Beats 1 and the iTunes store. Similar promotions with other artistes will follow in the months to come.
Apple executives hope the campaign will attract more artistes and customers to its two-year-old music service, which has signed up more than 20 million customers since June 2015. With rivals YouTube, Pandora Media Inc and Spotify Ltd all offering support to musicians, Cupertino, California-based Apple is eager to show artistes it can help them become stars, and to lure fans with exclusive video and music.
“It’s hard if you are a new artiste,” Lowe said in an interview. “That’s why they’ve all turned to digital platforms and social media.’”
Lowe spoke from Apple’s office in Culver City, a town nestled in the middle of Los Angeles, where the technology giant is building a greater presence as its entertainment ambitions grow. Lowe joined Apple a couple of years ago from the radio station BBC Radio 1, where he cultivated a reputation as an influential tastemaker and host. Apple, creator of iTunes and the iPod, had just spent US$3bil (RM13.19bil) acquiring Beats Music to gain a foothold in the music business’s next area of growth: online streaming.
Streaming services have supplanted CDs and iTunes downloads as the dominant way the music business makes money. The growing number of people willing to pay a monthly fee for access to playlists and a large catalogue of songs has boosted music industry sales two years in a row.
Now these services are remaking the industry by performing many of the functions once performed by music blogs, record labels and radio. Pandora offers musicians data on where their fans are, to inform their tour stops. YouTube has funded the production of music videos, and Spotify has hosted live recording sessions all over the US.
To be sure, Apple’s deal with 6lack is part of a wide-ranging promotional campaign by the artiste’s label. Interscope Records, a division of Universal Music Group, signed 6lack last year and has been aggressively marketing his music on urban radio and the press, with coverage in magazines like XXL and GQ.
Interscope was co-founded by Jimmy Iovine, who now runs Apple Music. The streaming service has…