Apple Music has claimed more than half – in some cases, more than two thirds – of US streams for a run of blockbuster hip-hop releases in the United States over the past two months.
That’s according to internal stats that Apple Music provides to its label partners, obtained by MBW, which reveal the platform’s first-week play-counts for recent chart-topping albums in the US.
We’ve checked Apple’s stream-count for these records against the total first week US on-demand audio stream volume for each album counted by trusted market monitor Alpha Data, as published by Rolling Stone.
Here’s six recent releases that show the trend very clearly:
- Dark Lane Demo Tapes by Drake. Release May 1st, US No.2. Total on-demand audio streams in week one according to Alpha Data: 226m. Apple Music share: 61.5%.
- 38 Baby 2 by YoungBoy Never Broke Again. Released April 24, US No.1. Total on-demand audio streams in week one according to Alpha Data: 71.8m. Apple Music share: 71.2%
- BLAME IT ON BABY by DaBaby. Released April 17, US No.1. Total on-demand audio streams in week one according to Alpha Data: 129.1m. Apple Music share: 59.3%
- The New Toronto 3 by Tory Lanez. Released April 10, US No.1. Total on-demand audio streams in week one according to Alpha Data: 61.8m. Apple Music share: 67.4%
- Pray 4 Love by Rod Wave. Released April 3, US No.2. Total on-demand audio streams in week one according to Alpha Data: 81.3m. Apple Music share: 73.6%
- My Turn by Lil Baby. Released February 28, US No.1. Total on-demand audio streams in week one according to Alpha Data: 223.2m. Apple Music share: 68.6%
According to those internal Apple stats, Apple Music’s share has seen it claim a total market share of frontline hip-hop on-demand audio streams in the United States of 45% dating back to 2019.
Obviously, all of those streams were on a ‘premium’ service, with Apple Music – unlike rival Spotify – having no free tier. For this reason, it appears highly likely that Apple claimed more than 50% of frontline hip-hop streams on paid accounts in the period.
Indeed, sources close to Apple suggest the company believes it held a 50%+ weekly US market share of premium hip-hop streams for new releases in 94 out of the last 96 weeks, including an unbroken stream of 82.
MBW caught up with Apple Music’s Global Editorial Head of Hip-Hop and R&B, Ebro Darden, to ask his view on how a paid-for service like Apple Music could command such a large market-share of US hip-hop streams.
Although he wouldn’t comment on the numbers we obtained, Darden said: “The cultural part of the question has to do with the efforts of many people over several years in creating partnerships with artists that matter, and creating deeper relationships – whether that’s with Drake, Nicki Minaj, Travis Scott, Frank Ocean or anyone else.”
“Inside Apple Music and in Beats 1 we’ve tried our best to align with the artist’s creative agenda, where it’s about them first.”
Ebro Darden, Apple Music (pictured)
He also credited Apple Music’s human-fronted ‘radio’ station, Beats 1, with helping create a “deeper affinity” with music fans, allowing, he said, Apple to “share music, contextualize music and explain why it’s important”.
Added Darden: “I’ve worked in many aspects of media and a lot of times an artist, or any content creator, walks into a media outlet and the media outlet has their agenda, and the artist or content creator’s message is secondary to that agenda. Inside Apple Music and in Beats 1 we’ve tried our best to align with the artist’s creative agenda, where it’s about them first.”
Apple Music announced last month that it was expanding into 52 new markets, including a range of territories in Africa such as Algeria, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Libya, Morocco, Rwanda and Zambia.Music Business Worldwide