iTunes Is Now Preparing a Massive, ‘Beyoncé-Esque’ Exclusive…

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No, it won’t be available on Spotify, or any other streaming service.  Not on the album release date, and maybe never.

Which is exactly how Apple is structuring this deal, according to executives sharing preliminary details with Digital Music News.  “[iTunes] and Beyoncé are very happy with the results of that exclusive,” one source close to Apple shared at SXSW, referring to the ground-breaking launch several months ago.  “So you’re going to see something similar coming up, [unnamed artist] really likes the idea.”

“I’m not sure it will top Beyoncé, but it will be ‘Beyoncé-esque’ let’s just say.”

Sources insisted that we not publish any names, though this is a major artist that you’ve definitely heard of.  In fact, there are multiple, big-name artists that could eventually finalize ‘Beyoncé-esque’ deals, depending on how things pan out.  “Spotify won’t get this, [nor will] any streaming service for that matter.  You will have to buy this from iTunes.”


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Asked if this will be a video-intensive release with a surprise release date, one of the sources only pointed to a healthy mix of video and audio.  But there probably won’t be videos for each and every song.  In terms of release strategy, the artist under discussion is deciding the best way to release, with a well-orchestrated, pre-release notification to fans more likely than a flat-out surprise.

But one thing is certain, according to our sources: this artist will be working direct-to-fan channels like Twitter, email, Facebook, SMS and several other channels ‘very aggressively,’ with ‘special giveaways and bonuses’ for the most dedicated and interested fans.  “There may be something to reward the best fans,” one of the sources with knowledge of the deal relayed, while pointing to a possible live concert tie-in.  Beyond that hint, there were no further details on that aspect.

“[The artist] really likes what Beyoncé did, the independence of it.  Streaming might come later, but that isn’t decided yet.”


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There’s also the money aspect, an area where Spotify falls flat.  “There’s the whole ‘if you don’t make it available on Spotify you’re cheating your fans’ thing,” one source continued.  “But [this artist] doesn’t really buy into that thought.

“[The artist] feels there are compensation problems [on streaming platforms].”

And what happens to the rest of the audience, ie, those that only stream and rarely (if ever) download?  “They don’t expect any backlash off of this.  The fans that matter will buy it.”

More details ahead.


93 Responses

  1. Adam

    Forward thinking as always. Hitching their wagons to a slowing service rather then embrace the future.

    • Anonymous


      Boycotting Spotify is the new black — and exclusive iTunes releases have proved to be an extremely successful strategy!

      • R.P.

        You base that off of one successful campaign? and someone else calls this “forward thinking”? lol.


        • Tommy

          I’m not even sure it has been that successful. Granted, it was a hugely successful launch. But now the album is out of the Top 10 in all the main markets and there are no signs of its sales stabilizing. If the point of an innovative marketing strategy is to increase sales, the jury’s still out on whether she would have done as well or better with a more conventional release.



        …OR NOT

    • Versus

      What’s “forward thinking”?

      If you think forward far enough, you are in your grave.



      …OR NOT

  2. visitor

    I would happily grant Itunes an exclusive on any album that they agreed to sell as ALBUM ONLY for as long as it is exclusive. C’mon Apple, let’s make a deal. Let’s get some diversity in the marketplace and allow artists more freedom and flexibility on how they choose to release their work.

  3. GGG

    Yes, this is a great idea. If you’re “a major artist that you’ve definitely heard of.”

    • visitor

      windowing, album only sales, and no strreaming on streetdate can work for everyone..

      • Anonymous

        I don’t agree on album only sales. That’s not fair to consumers.

        But there’s no doubt that Spotify windowing is the best solution for everyone today.

        • FarePlay

          Thank you for your “concern” for the consumer. Next you’ll be complaining to filmmakers about consumers not being able to purchase scenes from a film or chapters from a book.

          Some artists do produce “complete” works that are worth owning. People are so over-exposed to only listening to and purchasing singles they ultimately miss out on the great cuts. You guys keep pushing for a hits only driven music business and your going to end with bland, predictable music that only a choreographer would love.

          When artists are falling by the wayside because they can’t earn a living wage from great music, you say you’re concerned about the consumer.

          My response: the consumer needs to be concerned with their choices, not whether they can buy a can of disposable goods like Red Bull. The consumer’s been getting a free ride for long enough.

          • GGG

            “You guys keep pushing for a hits only driven music business and your going to end with bland, predictable music that only a choreographer would love.”

            I think we’ve been here for over a decade…thanks to people like one of our resident anonymous posters here…

          • Anonymous

            “Some artists do produce “complete” works that are worth owning”

            Yes. I know about 20 — not counting any classical works — and some of them can be debated.

            So they are way to few to be used as alibi for artists to shove worthless trash down your throat.

          • FarePlay

            Anyone who knows of less than 20 great works in any genre isn’t into music. Can we make you Anonymous Z and save some time?

          • GGG

            Long Post Alert

            I actually just had a discussion with a friend about this. I’m certainly on your side when it comes to there being more than 20 great full albums (there’s TONS more than that), and I’m an album fan to the point that I can’t even remember the last time I cherry picked a single, excluding artists I love writing/covering songs for compilations.

            But I also tend to roll my eyes a little when people talk about their albums being complete works of art and then have 12 different 3-4 minute tracks and multiple ‘singles.’ I can certainly find the tiniest of details to show why an album is cohesive, whether it’s thematic or just being written at a certain point in one’s life, but more often than not those emotional connections are on the artist side alone and/or how you interpret it, because dissecting great art can be incredibly fun and introspectively subjective like that. But I think people (at least in rock and pop) overestimate their record’s cohesiveness from an “artistic” standpoint.

            When we’re talking about artists that make 2-5 minute songs, they are obviously choosing to write at that length. If you have a longer message, make a longer song, or don’t break them up. Green Day has a 9 minute track on American Idiot that is I think 4 different songs. All of which COULD stand alone, but they chose not to let them. And now that I just checked, apparently when I uploaded them into iTunes from CD, it makes it more tracks than is even available when buying on iTunes. So more of them are meant to be and ARE combined if you want to buy them.

            So basically, I agree with you but I also think people need to realize that if you write 3-4 minute songs you should expect them to be taken out of the context of your bigger picture. Or make it relentlessly obvious like The Crane Wife or something.

          • Anonymous

            “Anyone who knows of less than 20 great works in any genre isn’t into music”

            …or his definition of “complete” works that are worth owning” differs from yours.

            Most ‘complete’ contemporary albums dazzle their fans because the standards are so low.

            Even the most beloved concept album of them all, Sgt. Pepper, comes across as fake when you compare it to any significant classical work since it just isn’t ‘complete’ in any sense of the word. Nothing binds it together; there are no leit motifs, no development, no themes, no nothing. Two different versions of a song are doesn’t constitute an arch and doesn’t build a ‘complete’ work. The album just happened to be the best rock fans could get at the time, and the bar has not been raised since then.

            Like I said, most of the 20 works I had in mind can be debated, and I wouldn’t feel compelled to buy more than 5 or 6 of them.

            The reason to force consumers into buying non-classical albums is usually greed.

      • GGG

        Well sure, but windowing for a small indie band is vastly different from windowing for a household name. Look at a band like Perfect Pussy. Got BNM’d by Pitchfork with an 8.8 or something. It’s punk music. You really think there’s loads of people willing to buy that album if they aren’t already hardcore fans? I went to listen on Spotify, they had one song. Meanwhile, Pitchfork links to Soundcloud, where they get a whopping nothing from plays. I guarantee you if you called up Spotify and asked them how many searches were made for PP you’d be amazed. And I’m willing to bet about 99% of the people that didn’t find it there didn’t give a shit enough to look elsewhere, or certainly not buy it.

        • Anonymous

          GGG, exactly what does unknown bands have to lose by windowing for a month?


          They are not even hit by piracy yet, for obvious reasons. They can post non-cannibalizing previews on YouTube for exposure. And they can start streaming at any point, should they so desire.

          Streaming during release week/month, on the other hand, always cannibalizes sales.

          So why do it?

          • GGG

            First of all, I’m not talking about bands that aren’t hit by piracy. If you have 400 Facebook fans, 399 of which are your families and friends, then sure, don’t even put your stuff up on Spotify at all.

            But if you don’t think a BNM by Pitchfork will get people wanting to hear your shit, you don’t know how Pitchfork works. And if you think a bunch of hipsters are just going to buy your music because you got BNM’d by Pitchfork, you don’t know how people under 30 work.

          • Anonymous

            OK, so you — perhaps the most vocal pro-streaming poster on this board — agree that windowing is great for major AND unknown artists.

            Now, Spotify wants you to believe that windowing leads to more piracy. In their desperation, they even use Taylor Swift’s ultra-bestselling smash hit Red as an example of how bad windowing is for you. 🙂

            But you obviously don’t subscribe to their theory. On the contrary, you agree that windowing is a ‘great idea’ for major artists.

            So why don’t you think windowing is great for the rest, as well?

          • GGG

            Because there are different sets of goals at different levels of artists. Or the goals are weighted differently at least.

            Windowing works for big, established artists because word will spread far and wide both artificially and organically. The amount of people that may impulse buy naturally diminishes a lot slower than smaller artists simply because the amount of people that will hear it is enormous, both comparatively and in actuality. Not to mention, the fan bases are large enough that, as we saw with Beyonce, even selling to less than 5% of your fans is 7 figures. So the time lapsed in windowing when you start just wringing out every last sale will be greater than for an indie.

            A band like Perfect Pussy is never going to go mainstream for a number of obvious reasons. Hell, even Arcade Fire is barely mainstream and they are as big as an indie band can get without going full Macklemore. But the difference for PP compared to an established act is that PP need fans more than anything if they want any sort of career. You seem to think their couple thousand fans buying their record so they have a few thousand more dollars is the be all end all of having a career. You’re coming from the wrong perspective. You write a song and are done with it. Then you can write for someone else. You don’t have to keep fans, the artists you write for do. The people that listen to your type of pop don’t give a shit about the songwriters, as is seen by Bonnie McKee’s failed attempt at a solo career while having like 20 of the biggest hits of the last 5 or so years.

            PP, and bands like them, will benefit more from giving the cheap, fickle, un-empathetic, modern young music fan easy access to their music than they will by hiding it behind a pay wall. It will also be different for each band, there won’t be some uniform 2 weeks or something. A smart thing to do is just watch sales closely. If you stay level for a while, keep windowing. But as soon as you see that drop off a cliff, might as well throw it up before all your hype is gone.

            Also, if you’re going to stick your music on SoundCloud anyway, you’re pretty much an idiot for not putting it on Spotify, and windowing serves very little purpose. At least you’ll be collecting SOMETHING on Spotify..

          • Anonymous

            That was a very long non-answer to a very simple question — but I’ll admit there was an award at the end:

            “A smart thing to do is just watch sales closely. If you stay level for a while, keep windowing. But as soon as you see that drop off a cliff, might as well throw it up before all your hype is gone.”

            This is good thinking. Nobody’s going to lose any money following that advice.

            But you obviously have to be windowing in the first place to do it.

            Then again, why not? What does anybody have to lose by windowing during release week? Even Spotify says it’s about the long tail.

            While release sales definitely is about the short tail…

          • GGG

            Not a non-answer, I explained why a band like Perfect Pussy would probably be better off not windowing, for very long, if at all. Also, sorry you have the attention span of a 3 year old and think this issue has a simple answer, but here’s a child’s version for you: A band like PP needs fans more than they need a few thousand dollars. In a perfect world it’s both, sure, but unfortunately, that doesn’t happen too often, especially in the indie world. And in the modern music era, people aren’t going to hunt around for your music if they aren’t fans, and will certainly not just buy it out of curiosity. Spotify is a quick go-to place for people wanting to hear something. As is YouTube, which pays less…

            If you can handle a longer post, here’s more.

            Also, the windowing that this article is referring to is not like one week windowing. It’s months, or maybe even a year or maybe even an entire album cycle. Going back to the difference between a major, established artist and a midlevel indie, the major’s name can withstand that wait because they are constantly being shoved at the public. 99% of indie bands are forgotten about by anyone whose not a fan much quicker. So the dilemma starts when you think about taking advantage of that hype. Would you rather stay behind a paywall and limit ears to get more dollars, or reach more ears at the expense of some sales? It’s like PR that actually pays you back.

          • Anonymous

            “Spotify is a quick go-to place for people wanting to hear something”

            Not true — YouTube is.

            Because YouTube doesn’t require special software and passwords and all that. It’s so easy. And it has video!

            Spotify is unknown to most people because it’s slow, complicated and old-fashioned. And because it doesn’t have video. Video is the future.

            And again, YouTube doesn’t cannibalize sales one bit when you upload previews, extras, interviews, behind-the-scenes, etc.

            Try to do that on Spotify…

          • GGG

            Pretty much ever line in this post is dumb. What do you mean “not true?” I go there 100 times more often than I go to YouTube to hear music. I didn’t say it was THE go-to streaming platform, I said it was A go-to. Which it is for me, and millions like me. Yes, YouTube is bigger. So what? They also pay less.

            People put in passwords and user names for more sites than they can remember nowadays. That isn’t stopping anyone. Spotify’s shitty/lack of marketing is why it isn’t more popular.

            I’m not sure how old and senile you possibly are that you think Spotify is complicated. Search an artist, listen to their music. It’s about as simple as you can get. YouTube works literally the same exact way. As does any site on the internet with a search function.

            I’m sorry the shitty pop music you write is so bland you NEED a video there to distract listeners, but despite your continued assertions that people can’t possibly consume music without a visual these days, plenty of people enjoy audio-only options. I see countless people wearing headphones on the subway every day. I don’t think I’ve seen one person staring at their phone unless they were watching a show or playing Candy Crush. You should certainly have a video for youtube, but people do just listen.

            And sure, those things you mention don’t cannibalize, you are correct. But you know what does? The music videos. You can’t argue music videos are what everyone wants and watches and listens to and then tell me it doesn’t cannibalize sales like Spotify does. Incredibly faulty logic. Try again.

          • Anonymous

            GGG, here’s what audiences want: FAST and EASY!

            YouTube is both, Spotify is neither.

            Why do YouTube songs go viral? Because you send a link to your friend — and CLICK, there it is!

            Again: YouTube previews don’t cannibalize sales. On the contrary, it’s the way you get exposure today.

          • GGG

            I just saw a new song I wanted to check out. Clicked open Spotify, searched and found the track. Probably took me 15 seconds max. Pretty fast and easy if you ask me.

            Also, things go viral in YouTube because it’s a massively more popular media outlet. I don’t know why you’re trying to argue like I’m saying Spotify is bigger or something. The debate started about windowing streaming, and you’re trying to debate a non-issue.

            Again, obviously previews don’t cannibalize because it’s not a full song. But why would someone going to check out previews suddenly decide not to just get the song there when it comes out, too? Or if you’re a big enough fan to look up previews you were probably going to buy anyway. Again, you can’t tell me YouTube is so popular but doesn’t cannibalize. It’s ridiculous. Your naïveté and wishful thinking in regard to consumer behavior would be adorable if you weren’t so wrong about it.

          • Anonymous

            “things go viral in YouTube because it’s a massively more popular media outlet”

            No, it’s because YouTube’s nature is viral. It’s just built that way. Open and inviting. While Spotify still hides behind these old-fashioned walls.

            if you’re a big enough fan to look up [YouTube] previews you were probably going to buy anyway

            You don’t have to be a fan to click a YouTube link your friend sends you.

            You click because you trust your friend. And you buy the song if the preview gets to you. No cannibalization is involved.

          • GGG

  ’s both. It’s open and inviting which makes it massively popular. Again, I really don’t get what you’re trying to argue here…If Spotify had better marketing and more people used the service, they would use the service to check out new bands/songs/etc. I’m not arguing they have as many people as YouTube or more people use that to preview tracks. But I’m willing to bet the average person who DOES have Spotify pops that up at least as often, but probably more often than YouTube to search for something.

            I really don’t understand how dense you can be about this. Yes, if you like a preview you can buy the track. Or you can stream it on YouTube, where you saw the preview, since that is obviously a place you consume music. Now, yes, you are correct, that monetizing that preview is great, and something Spotify can’t do. Doesn’t mean both services can’t exist for different types of consumer.

          • Paul Resnikoff

            Nice points GGG. One thing that is interesting to observe: I’m not getting the sense that windowing superstars are suffering any backlash (whether Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, deadmau5, whomever). I don’t think fans begrudge the artist.

            I find this in lots of examples. When I travel overseas, I can’t stream Game of Thrones. I have to download it from iTunes. But do I hate the producers of Game of Thrones? No, not really. I’m only mildly pissed off. I’ll be back for Season 4. Just feed my addiction, I’ll still love you.

          • GGG

            Yea, it is interesting, and I think it says more about Spotify’s lack of marketing/reaching the casual music fan than anything. Huge artists have always only sold to a tiny percent of their fans, so that mindset of music consumption being either buy or don’t listen is still there, just offset a little more with YouTube streaming.

            But again, that’s the difference in why it works. People who are going to buy Taylor Swift or Beyonce are still totally willing to buy their music just on name alone. It’s the jaded, asshole fans like me that need to like extensively vet a band or be absolutely floored on first listen before giving them money haha. I still buy plenty of music/merch but I also listen to probably more than ten times as many new-to-me artists/music on Spotify with no plan on ever buying it. Which is mostly because I don’t like it enough.

        • Ally

          Pitchfork links to what the artist has made available. If PP made their song available via YouTube instead of SoundCloud, Pitchfork would link to YT.

          • GGG

            Well, yea…not sure what this is arguing…They linked to one of the streaming services that pays them 0, instead of one that does, whether it’s Spotify, YT, Rdio, whatever.

          • GGG

            That album was not when I posted, as it was released the next day. Pitchfork didn’t start reviewing albums prior to release until recently, so I assumed it was already out. So yes, I made a mistake in that sense, but seems like they agree with what I was using them to argue anyway

            So, nice try with the snark, but doesn’t really trash my argument at all.

            Love you!



      …OR NOT

  4. ft hhdsgh

    I think its AZEALIA BANKS because she has communicated with her fans about new music and said her dedicated fans will get something special .



    • Anonymous


      … is a huge YouTube success, so that would be a surprise.

      A very interesting one, though.

  6. WEEZY


  7. zaza_04

    Maybe its Lady Gaga! i hope so , thatd be so awesome.

    • PiratesWinLOL

      Sounds reasonable, also considering the fact that he now want to encourage people sharing music.

  8. Queen of.....

    It’s Nicki Minaj. She said in an interview that she wouldn’t give a release
    date till the very last minute. She’s given fans reason to think she might be pulling a Bey..

    • YxxngNika

      YAAAS. I’d like to think it’s Nicki too. You are right, she did say in an interview we won’t know anything about da album till it’s release.
      If it really is her, I think it’s a great idea.

  9. Dave Buerger On Bass

    Who cares? If the music is good, people will buy it. Just because your car needs gas doesn’t mean there MUST be a service station on every corner.

  10. Nissl

    Windowing and album-only are going to be the big trends for the next few years now. That said, I expect future albums pursuing the Beyonce strategy to not work quite as well, because the novelty’s worn off and few acts have her star power. Maybe someone will do a real concept video album (vs. Beyonce’s mish-mash of videos). That’d be neat. Trying to think of what other value could be added….

    I’ve been looking at CPM and stream rates on the various services, and you know what, they do an ok job matching single sales for major labels these days. The problem is that they’re not anywhere close in the album sales domain, not even if you multiplied 5x to simulate streaming services eating the whole market.

  11. surfboardt

    Its Rihanna. She’s known for her visual work as well as her music. And the article mentioned that she had an issue with compensation with streaming, and Rih was one of the artists who sued Pandora.
    Not to mention she loves to copy Beyonce.

    • Anonymous

      “And the article mentioned that she had an issue with compensation with streaming”

      That doesn’t say much, does it…

      All artists have issues compensation from streaming.

      • surfboardt

        But the article makes it seem like that compensation was a major reason for deciding to do this Beyonce release. And Rihanna is not overdue for an album.

  12. Beth

    This is obviously Mariah Carey. Jermaine Dupri was spotted with Eddy Cue earlier this month in NYC.

  13. It's Kayne West

    Only the lyrical genius of the generation could pull this off.

  14. JD

    Has to be Adele. She’s been invisible since Skyfall. She has a young child so the free publicity she’ll get without having to fly all over the world is a plus. No one recently has sold as many albums as she has and she can do it on name alone.

  15. Reporter

    I found out about the artist today but had to sign a confidentiality agreement




    …OR NOT

  17. Digital Music News

    Rumors are circulating that the artist’s management and label are not seeing eye-to-eye.

  18. Jermaine Dupri

    It’s Mariah Carey. Y’all betta be ready!!

    • lamb1991

      OH MY GOD YAAYYYYYYYYYYY! ragvbaihc,chblKHBCwibcv;iweH

    • Michael DeMello

      Jermaine, I actually believe that this is the real Jermaine. I have been off from work this week and in my downtime I have been searching this site, and googling her relentlessly. I am going out of my mind. I have been a fan since I was 11. I am not turning 35 next month. Mariahs music have influenced my life, my work (poet and nurse) and has released music at every major milestone in her life. I even find myself sticking up for you two on the online articles and comments sections. I am a true believer, a lamb, and fan till my dying day. I even made a twitter account just so I could try to reach out to you guys and say that the true fans will be there till the end and are very dedicated. It doesnt matter what type of numbers this album brings in, us fans are salivating, and heavily breathing in anticipation of it. We Need more info, I wanna know, I just have to know hahaha. As you can see I am passionatre about mariah and I cant wait to hear more about this project. Other musicians will come and go, but for the last 25 years, Mariah has been number 1.
      Love Mike

  19. Lamb4Life

    yesssss! i just knew MC wouldn’t let us down! can’t wait :* 🙂 🙂 🙂

  20. Digital Music News

    It has been confirmed to be, Mariah Carey.

    • Michael d

      When? I’m storming the net trying to figure this out- it’s gonna be soon cause the cats almost out of the bag!! I’m so excited! Omg!!!!

  21. Barack Obama

    I’m happy to announce that it is Mariah Carey. I will be downloading right at when it comes out and jam it with my little girls and wife. America, we must stand together as one and purchase this album.

  22. Mariah Carey

    Yes, dahhlings my new album will be released this way very PIP announcement coming soon LYM .

  23. Jermaine Dupri

    Did I say May? You’ll have it on your iPhone by May.

  24. Pedro C

    Well I guess I won’t be getting this since the only way I’m willing or even able to listen to new music is on my stereo. I only buy actual albums.

  25. MDNA

    It’s the queen of pop MADONNA get ready !!!!