executives Jimmy Iovine, Zane Lowe, Robert Kondrk, and Larry Jackson spoke to The Verge
over the weekend about their work with the musician Drake and the success of Beats 1 radio station, which launched in tandem with the Apple Music app in 2015.
Republic Records told The Verge
that Drake's new album More Life
was streamed 300 million times worldwide in its first week on Apple Music. It has already eclipsed his previous album, Views
, which was an Apple Music exclusive and streamed around 250 million times in its first week. More Life
also streamed 89.9 million times during its first 24 hours
, breaking single-day album streaming records for all music services.
The numbers for Drake's More Life
are impressive in another way – the album is also available on Spotify, which has 100 million subscribers compared to Apple Music's 20 million. The Apple Music team puts the success of the release down to Drake's close collaboration with Beats 1 and his OVO Sound Radio
show. The show has debuted several Drake records, including More Life
on the most recent episode, which set the record for the most listened-to show.
"What we saw on Drake's radio show were TV numbers," Iovine told The Verge. "We learned so much from just building what Drake needed. He had the idea, we kind of just built and supported around him, and we've learned a lot from that, and the entire industry has learned a lot from that."
Jackson called Beats 1 "the biggest radio station in the world" and boasted that there wasn't another station in existence that has as many concurrent listeners, (although Apple declined to offer specific listener numbers).
"If you rewind back to July of 2015, and those records that rolled out like 'Back to Back,' — 'Hotline Bling' debuted on OVO Sound Radio first, 'Charged Up' debuted there first — all these records debuted in a space that was really still new and nascent, and [Drake] made it his own. You can glance over it, but we created this idea that was really great for him, and he took advantage of it," Jackson said. "Drake and Oliver and [Drake's other co-manager] Future [The Prince] were the first to do this with us."
Zane Lowe, head of Beats 1, said that what Drake had taught him in terms of the parameters of broadcasting was remarkable. "He knows what he's doing, and he knows his audience," said Lowe. "And he knows it's going to work when it's ready. The best thing that anyone — including myself — can do is get out of the way."
Kondrk described the relationship between Apple Music and Beats 1 like an amusement park — once users are inside the Apple Music app to listen to Beats 1, he said it was "only natural you'll stay in it to stream the songs afterwards".
"The music is debuting through OVO Sound Radio first, no one really ever leaves the amusement park, and that's why the numbers make sense," Kondrk says. "It's a new paradigm that we've really created here for someone like him to come in and be a genius and take full advantage of everything we have to offer."
Speaking more generally, Iovine reiterated his belief that Apple Music can't become just a "utility" and that the company had to stay nimble, while working with artists like Drake was key to avoiding that distinction. "Two years ago, people would've thought we were crazy with what we were doing with Drake. And we are starting things with other people that in two years will look as interesting as this."
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