Quantcast
WHAT GOOD IS AN EXCLUSIVE?

Before the Internet, The Exclusive was everything. Whether that was a new song—or in the electronic and rhythm/urban music worlds, even a fire remix—it instantly created excitement for the presenting team and immediate destination listening for the attending audience. And if that exclusive was hot, there was ridiculously huge value in being the only place you could hear it. 

But those were the analog days, when we stood by a frequency transmission for hours with our boom boxes loaded up with cassettes and a freshly pushed pause button as we waited to capture our song. 

Millennials have everything at their fingertips and via social media, now discover the daily lives of their future favorite music stars, which has become a vital part of the whole extended experience of a band way past the actual songs. So it’s actually annoying in the modern construct to be denied access to anything as trivial as an mp3 or a remixed version of it. WTF FML. With young people today, The Exclusive is met with the same disdain as tax breaks for the 1%; it’s a velvet rope motivated by capitalism and competition so go fuck yourself.


Yet the Big Four streaming services are still queuing up a regular flow of exclusives. There’s Jay Z—one of the FEW artists who controls his own masters—yanking his Blueprint catalog off other services for Tidal (which hooked up a new exclusive this week with the Big Sean-Jhene Aiko project Twenty88). Apple Music breaks off 20m to Drake to get golden moments like “Hotline Bling” or What A Time To Be Alive, or negotiates an exclusive with OVO SoundsDVSN, as was announced this week. Spotify has their “Sessions”; Google Play has YouTube, bye.

Do exclusives really matter in the end? While it may be great scores for ego and imaging—and perhaps a short-term surge in sign-ups—at the end of the day it’s bigger than one song, or one album, now. Kanye made a measurable case for Tidal with The Life of Pablo for a hot second, literally. Taylor Swift and Adele certainly haven’t put a dent into Spotify usage since they just hit 30 million in paid subscribers. (Total audience: 75m).

Did Tidal get a bump in trial sign-ups thanks to Rihanna and Kanye? Possibly. Will those subscribers stick around once the free trial ends and they’ve checked out all the exclusive content? Hard to say. It would appear that consumers like the services they like, and will find stuff that isn’t available on those services—whether via strategic free trials, digital purchases or other means (hello, Torrent sites).

The streaming services that are playing the long game, it seems, aren’t banking on exclusives. They want to be part of the larger music ecosystem and both a player in and an early-warning mechanism for breaking records globally.

Traditional radio, meanwhile, still hosts a regular slate of exclusives too, with iHeartRadio making their plays and industry juggernauts like CBSKROQ-LA in the modern rock arena, used for the last two decades by labels as a conduit to debut records, propped for the exclusive “World Premiere.”  That used to be how you got the word out, after all. However that realm now includes outlets like BBC’s Radio 1 and Apple Music’s Beats 1— broadcast radio with a worldwide streaming audience firmly intact. 

But the golden rule still applies when it comes to winning a core and loyal audience in the music space:  being early on the right records. This applies universally if you’re a curator, whether that’s a Program or Music Director, Club DJ, Head of Content or recreational playlister. 

APPLE MUSIC'S
YEAR-END LEADERS
Roddy Rich and The Weeknd are streaming kings. (12/4a)
VAUGHN'S FIRST MOVE: MATTERA TO THE TOWER
A company with no corner offices (12/1a)
U.K. MEET THE MANAGERS
Who's hot in Blighty? (12/1a)
RON PERRY: SUPERCHARGING THE BIG RED MACHINE
Hoodie man doin' work (12/2a)
SPOTIFY GIFT-WRAPS
THE YEAR IN MUSIC
How Swede it is. (12/2a)
RAINMAKERS 2020
Bring your umbrella.
GRAMMYS: WHERE TO FROM HERE?
Assessing the state of play in Snubland.
ZOOM CHRISTMAS
Ho, ho, no.
RUDY FARTED IN COURT
We wish we were joking.
 Email

 First Name

 Last Name

 Company

 Country
CAPTCHA code
Captcha: (type the characters above)