The digital music streaming arms race has been dissected to death by fans and observers, but of late, the conversation has wrongly suggested it a two-horse race. Jay Z’s fumbled power play, Tidal, has been analyzed and debated as a competitor to industry standard bearer Spotify. Now, another entertainment monolith threatens to end the fight before it really beings. Apple is expected to launch Apple Music, its rebranding and integration of Beats Music, next week at their annual Worldwide Developers’ Conference (June 8-12). According to a Billboard report, Drake and Pharrell will be involved in the launch, which will presumably aim to usurp Spotify atop the streaming market. At press time, it was unclear what role the artists would play with Apple, though Billboard cited a New York Post report indicating they might act as “celebrity DJs” for the service.
Perhaps most interestingly, the Billboard story also reports that Drake was scheduled to be one of the artists who appeared in the promotional videos that would serve as Tidal’s launch, but pulled out as little as two days before they were to be filmed. It is unclear whether Apple has secured contracts with the three major labels, a problem that has plagued Tidal and threatens to drain millions of dollars in exorbitant advance fees.
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