Apple Music creative team discusses the service’s exclusives, future

In a new interview with Complex, Larry Jackson, Zane Lowe and Bozoma Saint John spelled out their ambitions for expanding Apple Music’s impact on popular culture and driving new users to the subscription service. As in previous interviews, the Apple Music creative team focused on exclusive deals with artists like Taylor Swift and Drake as a cornerstone of what the service offers to distinguish itself from competitors like Spotify and Pandora. But Jackson is quick to point out that those arrangements go far beyond simply getting an artist’s album a week before it hits stores. “When we did [Please Forgive Me, Drake’s 20-minute music video, which Jackson co-wrote] in particular, that was in South Africa, and it was really difficult for Drake,” Jackson recalled. “He’s at the height of everything for, like, six weeks, and uprooted his life to go to Africa for seven days in the middle of BET [Awards] week, when he’s nominated for more awards than anybody. All for an idea that we had.”
Similar talks led to Taylor Swift’s 1989 tour documentary, with the singer coming to Apple with an idea that the company helped bring to life. Saint John, who formerly ran entertainment and marketing at Pepsi—and allegedly was the driving force behind Beyonce’s popular 2013 Super Bowl performance—likened her role at Apple Music to that of a party promoter, letting the world know that there’s unique content worth discovering and how to find it. The team admits to plenty of conflict over the direction of the product—with Jackson calling the tension “a secret sauce”—and confesses that learning to pivot away from ideas that aren’t working has been a tough lesson. If Jimmy Iovine’s comments about Apple’s openness to scripted TV series are any indication, the company may be greatly expanding the service’s offerings by the end of the year. But while Jackson admits that he knows the product can’t be “all things to everyone,” Lowe sees a shift in the way that people are consuming music in particular, and entertainment in general. His hope is that as things build to a tipping point, Apple Music can become the go-to destination for people looking for a deeper interaction with their favorite artists. “We’re all still working it out, and even when you don’t have the answer, it’s still a privilege to be in the conversation. I would hate to be on the outside of this room right now,” Lowe said.

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