In a new interview, Apple Music president Jimmy Iovine has announced his company's intention to continue pursuing exclusive streaming deals with top music artists, despite recent controversy regarding the practice. Iovine also revealed that Apple Music will be unveiling new playlists for users determined via algorithms, similar to those available on Spotify.
The issue of exclusive deals with artists on streaming music services has been making news lately, and came to a head when last month, Apple entered a pact with R&B star Frank Ocean to stream his new album Blonde, essentially allowing him to escape his current pact with Universal's label group and become an independent recording artist. The move angered head of Universal Music Group (UMG) Lucian Grainge, who announced that his music label, the largest in the world, would no longer enter into exclusive agreements with any streaming services going forward.
Spotify, considered Apple Music's largest and most direct competitor, also announced that they have no intentions of entering exclusive deals with any artists or record labels, claiming they are bad for artists, fans and the music industry in general.
Despite the controversy, Iovine is vowing to stick with the practice at Apple Music, and claims he will continue to pursue exclusive deals with both independent artists and with those at the two remaining "big three" record labels, Warner Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment.
"It's Apple's show. As long as Apple's asking me to do what I'm doing, I'm gonna keep doing it," said Iovine. "We put a lot into this, we've had some real successes, and we always hold up our end of the relationship," he added, explaining that the company is still figuring out how to approach the subject. "We're feeling our way around and seeing what works ... Every time we do [an exclusive], we learn something new."
Apple is also introducing something new in the way of playlists, which are fast usurping albums as music fans' primary way of listening to music on streamers. The company has until now enlisted a policy of human curation for its playlists, which means they are chosen by experts in various genres as opposed to being generated by computer programs, like the playlists Spotify routinely offers its subscribers.
That's all about to change according to Iovine, who revealed that Apple Music has new playlists in the works that will be determined via algorithms. The playlists, entitled My Favorites Mix and My New Music Mix, will utilize previous listening habits as well as the ratings which iTunes listeners have applied to tracks in their iTunes libraries over the years, giving Apple Music what it feels is an advantage over its streaming competitors in personalizing its playlists.