Apple Music has signed a deal with Birdman and Cash Money Records, the latest addition to its ever-expanding list of artists with which the streaming service has entered exclusive deals, a source confirmed to Billboard today. The Cash Money CEO announced the “power move” on his Instagram, posting a picture of himself with Apple Music head of content Larry Jackson, who confirmed the signing in an Instagram post of his own.
“Welcome to the fam @birdman5star,” Jackson wrote on Instagram, tagging the Cash Money mogul. “Tough negotiator. Much respeck.
“As of press time, there are no other details about what, exactly, this deal might entail, but it raises a few interesting questions for the label, which boasts Lil Wayne,Drake and Nicki Minaj as its marquee artists. For one, there’s Drake’s own deal with Apple, which has manifested itself in two exclusive album releases, the music video for “Hotline Bling” and a sponsorship deal for his current Summer Sixteen Tour alongside Future. Then there’s Wayne, currently embroiled in two separate lawsuits — one against Cash Money, one against distributor Universal Music Group– that have held up his ability to release music, and his status as one of 20 artist-owners of JayZ’s streaming service Tidal (as is Nicki Minaj), which would seemingly put him at odds with any Apple deal.
Update (1:34 p.m.):Two additional sources confirm to Billboard that the Apple deal is for a one-off documentary film about Birdman and Cash Money Records and does not affect the other deals with Cash Money artists, including Nicki and Wayne with Tidal and Drake with Apple. The original story continues below.
And finally there’s the implications that would exist for Cash Money’s distribution deal with UMG/Republic Records. This deal would be Apple Music’s first with a full label, having previously struck direct deals with individual artists such as DJ Khaled, Future and Chance the Rapper, among others, for various types of exclusives and promotions. Cash Money’s relationship with Universal goes back to 1998, when the company struck an unprecedented $30 million distribution deal with the major, turning the regional rap imprint into an international brand overnight.
Regardless of the terms, it seems to be another step by Apple Music to lock down as many exclusive releases as possible. Birdman announced recently that he has two new projects on the way: his final solo album, Ms. Gladys, and another label compilation from his Rich Gang cohorts called The Lifestyle 2. And with Apple Music expanding its television, film and advertising offerings of late, there are several mediums within which a deal could exist.