What happens when you throw $500,000 in a musicianâ€™s face? Â Well, they usually take it. Â But that doesnâ€™t make it healthy for the music industry or music fans.
And so we had another giant bombshell over the weekend. Â Chance the Rapper received $500,000 from Apple for making Coloring Book an iTunes and Apple Music exclusive. Â We know that because the rapper told us that.
Hereâ€™s what he revealed:
â€œI never felt the need to correct folks on my relationship with [Apple]Â but now that more people have tried to discredit my independence,â€ Chance the Rapper tweeted.Â â€œI wanna clear things up.
â€œ[Apple] gave me half a mil and a commercial to post Coloring Book exclusively on Apple Music for 2 weeks.â€
â€œThat was the extent of my deal, after 2 weeks it was on SoundCloud for free. Â I needed the money and theyâ€™re all good people over there.
â€œI feel like if I didnâ€™t clear it up people would keep trying to discredit all the work we did to make Coloring Book what it became.â€
Apple hasnâ€™t responded. Â But you can believe what you want. Â Weâ€™re gonna go with Chance the Rapper.
And $500,000? Â Tidal couldnâ€™t afford that. Â Spotify is strapped to the hilt. Â And Apple has billions in a savings account. Â Guess who wins that one?
If youâ€™re Chance the Rapper, youâ€™re also a big winner, for obvious reasons. And nobody can fault an independent rapper for taking the cash (especially when he then gives one million dollars to help a failing Chicago public school system).
But there are two giant groups that arenâ€™t winning here: music fans, and the music industry. Â In fact, both are getting the serious shaft.
Music fans, because the music they want isnâ€™t available where they want it. Â So, after subscribing to a competitor like Spotify, they are effectively punished for supporting the music industry.
And the music industry, because pissed-off fans feel slighted by the system and start going back to piracy. Â That could be the Pirate Bay, or maybe an increasingly-vilified YouTube downloader. Â Either way, the money bleeds out of a growing streaming music infrastructure, and into a piracy channel that is absolutely, positively guaranteed not to pay royalties to anyone.
Apple, youâ€™re being a douche. Â Exclusives make you look short-sighted and selfish. Â The music Â industry hates them. Â Music fans hate them. Â In fact, everyone except Apple Music subscribers and the artist youâ€™re paying hates them.
People arenâ€™t going to quit Spotify to get a Chance the Rapper album. Â Theyâ€™d rather steal it. Â Instead, use the $500,000 (or $5 million) to invest in a competitive feature, a budding artist career, or a sound fidelity enhancement.
Let users decide which services wins based on features, not industry-killing exclusives. Â And watch the streaming music space growÂ even faster than it is right now.
Thereâ€™s room for more than one winner.