More rappers are joining forces with Apple, but Jay-Z is not in the mix.
Apple is producing a documentary about Cash Money Records, the hip-hop label that’s home to Drake, Lil’ Wayne, and Nicki Minaj. According to Bloomberg, Apple has agreed to finance the project, and it’s expected to stream exclusively on Apple Music.
Earlier this week, Cash Money Records co-founder Bryan Williams, better known in the music industry as Birdman, posted a photo on Instagram with Larry Jackson, Apple’s head of original music content. He captioned the photo, “It’s official… Cash Money makes a power move with Apple Music.”
At the time, people speculated that Apple Music had negotiated to stream all forthcoming Cash Money albums, but Bloomberg notes that exclusive album premieres are not a part of this documentary deal.
Apple Music did score the exclusive premiere of Drake’s most recent album, Views. in 2015, Apple Music also debuted the rapper’s video for “Hotline Bling,” before the music video became a meme viral sensation.
This is not the first time Apple has made headlines for bringing high-profile talent onboard to bolster Apple Music’s original programming. Streaming Taylor Swift’s concert special seems to only have been the beginning. Recently, Tim Cook and co. have also signed with actress Gwyneth Paltrow and musician Will.I.Am for a reality series about iOS apps. And Apple Music will also be the home of Carpool Karaoke, a web series where celebrities sing in a car with The Late Late Show host James Corden.
Why this matters: Even though the Apple/Cash Money partnership does not include album premieres, that doesn’t mean that exclusive music deals are out of the question down the road—especially considering Drake has been closely aligned with Apple Music since its launch last year. So, don’t be surprised if you’ll need an Apple Music subscription to be the first to listen to Nicki Minaj’s next album.
Although both Minaj and Lil’ Wayne could be wildcards, as they are both co-owners of Tidal. Not to mention, Wayne has had a contentious relationship (or shall we say, beef) with Birdman and Cash Money recently... which actually makes for a more interesting documentary.
This partnership could be Apple’s way of testing the waters with Cash Money Records, and figuring out how and if broader content deals with a collection of artists will pay off. It might make more sense than outright acquiring Tidal altogether. After all, Apple already has the streaming service. Now it just needs to find its Jay-Z and Beyoncé.