— Apple Music (@AppleMusic) September 21, 2015
Apple Music had two big business developments break yesterday. First, the streaming service debuted a surprise mixtape by hip-hop superstars Drake and Future. Drake has been involved with the platform before, taking the stage at its launch event and hosting a Beats 1 show. This new album represents the degree to which Apple is willing to collaborate with artists; despite the two performers being hugely popular, there were no hints about the upcoming launch. Its premiere was streamed on Drake’s show last night, and now it is available exclusively on iTunes. Getting the exclusive in the Apple ecosystem rather than Tidal, which Drake had ties with at one point, is also a big win for the new kid on the streaming block.
Second, in a new commercial, Ava DuVernay (of “Selma”) directed the trio of Taraji P. Henderson, Kerry Washington, and Mary J. Blige in an hommage to Apple Music’s playlist feature. The group browses some old mixtapes, then compare that old-school experience of creating and planning a tape to the ease of listening to the tracks assembled by Apple.
This spot marks a shift in rhetoric for the streaming platform. For its entire existence to date, the focus of Apple Music’s presentation has been human curation. There’s no mention of the people providing hand-picked music choices in this ad. This could be an effort to start drawing more direct comparisons with other top players in the industry that rely on computer-generated playlist creation.