In a rare public disclosure of closed-door music industry dealings with one of the biggest companies in the world, Chance the Rapper said Friday that he was paid half a million dollars by Apple to host his digital mixtape, “Coloring Book,” exclusively on its streaming service for two weeks last year.
The rapper, who has long flaunted his independence from the record label system and his decision to not charge for music, said his burst of financial transparency was because of some critics’ questioning the veracity of his do-it-yourself ethos.
“I feel like if I didn’t clear it up people would keep trying to discredit all the work we did to make Coloring Book what it became,” Chance, who won three Grammy Awards for the project in February, wrote on Twitter on Friday. “I think artist can gain a lot from the streaming wars as long as they remain in control of their own product.”
He added that in addition to the $500,000, the deal included a 30-second commercial. “I needed the money and they’re all good people over there,” he said.
Since its debut in the summer of 2015, Apple Music has partnered closely with artists, including Drake, Frank Ocean and Future, sponsoring tours, music videos and more as part of arrangements that often included exclusivity windows on new releases, which Apple hoped would boost its subscriber numbers as it competes with the streaming leader Spotify. (Tidal, the streaming service spearheaded by Jay Z, has also used the strategy.)
“Do we see spikes when we do exclusives? Yes,” the Apple music executive Jimmy Iovine said in an interview with The New York Times last year. Larry Jackson, another Apple Music executive, called the tactic “a very powerful messaging tool, just marketing for the concept of streaming.”
But until Chance’s revelation, the specifics of the deals with artists have largely remained opaque. Apple did not immediately respond to a request to comment on the rapper’s assertion.
“Chance the Rapper didn’t take us to decide not to sign with a record label — he decided that a long time ago,” Iovine said in the interview last year. “We’re just a distribution platform and he chose us, thankfully, instead of all the others.”
He added, “I think that Chance feels we delivered for him and we’ll do even better next time.”
Apple Music is planning another big debut this weekend. “More Life,” a new release from Drake, is to premiere Saturday on the rapper’s OVO Sound online radio show on the company’s Beats 1 station. Drake, who has collaborated with Apple on his last three releases, in addition to his recent tour and videos, has proved to be the company’s most visible and consistent artist ambassador.
But unlike his blockbuster “Views” album, which was exclusive to Apple for a time, “More Life” is expected to be widely available for streaming immediately upon release.