Apple Music is busy signing deals for artist exclusives again, having just partnered with one of Russia’s biggest independent rappers, Scriptonite, on a windowed album release.
MBW has confirmed that the star released his most recent album Svistki & Bumashki (Papers and Whistles) as a four-week Apple Music exclusive on March 27.
Scriptonite (Adil Jalelov) is a rapper and producer from Khazakhstan and is currently one of the most popular independent artists in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
Scriptonite’s close relationship with Apple Music started back in 2019, when he was featured on the Cover of Apple‘s New Music Daily playlist. He subsequently released his previous album, 2004, as a five-week Apple Music exclusive on December 24, 2019.
That experience was positive enough to convince Scriptonite and his team to repeat the strategy for Svistki & Bumashki.
Since 2019, Scriptonite has released music via his own label, Musica 36.
The CEO of that label, Olzhas Baimagambetov, tells MBW of Scriptonite’s latest Apple exclusive: “It is a risky undertaking when you go exclusively with someone from the streaming world.
“There have been a lot of people who tried to talk me out of it, but considering the market share of Apple Music, and also taking into account the mutual effort – this has been a great story so far.”
“We have seen in our reports that by far the biggest share of the money came from Apple Music in CIS. Obviously, we decided to work with Apple Music in this part of the world.”
Olzhas Baimagambetov, Musica 36
Nine tracks from Scriptonite’s most recent album hit the Top 10 of Apple Music’s Top 100 Russia Song Chart during the week of its release (pictured inset).
At the time of writing, the album is still holding on to the No.1 position on the Apple Music Russia album chart.
Olzhas Baimagambetov tells MBW that Musica 36 is now considering another Apple exclusive release with Scriptonite’s next album, which will be an English-language record.
He says: “Every year we conduct a business review with [our] aggregators, especially with Believe. We have seen in our reports that by far the biggest share of the money came from Apple Music in CIS.
“Obviously, we decided to work with Apple Music [again] in this part of the world. We saw this collaboration is very successful, as Apple Music in Russia is the biggest platform.”
“Apple Music is a platform that supports and helps the indies to get the needed spotlight; especially in Russia, where the indie-industry is really seriously competing with the majors.”
Olzhas Baimagambetov, Musica 36
He continues: “Apple Music is a platform that supports and helps the indies to get the needed spotlight; especially in Russia, where the indie-industry is really seriously competing with the majors.
“This kind of support and this kind of projects are bringing additional value to the table of independent label like ours.”
Scriptonite’s partnership with Apple Music comes less than two years after superstar French rap outfit PNL agreed to their own timed Apple Music exclusive for four tracks as part of a wide-ranging deal with the music streaming platform in June 2019.
PNL’s partnership with Apple Music proved successful for the independent duo, with those four tracks claiming the entire Top 4 of Apple Music’s French chart.
Russia was one of the first countries to get access to Apple Music back in 2015.
According to IFPI data, Russia was the world’s fastest-growing recorded music market on a percentage basis in 2019, up 50.3% in wholesale revenue terms year-on-year.
Scriptonite and his side project, a full band called Gruppa Scriptonite, have garnered tens of millions of views on YouTube.
The rapper’s Musica 36 label now features a roster of around 12 Russian artists.
MBW understands it has international expansion plans, with a recent Nigeria-based signing forming part of the company’s global ambitions.
Apple Music’s partnership with Scriptonite in Russia comes five years after Universal Music Group boss Sir Lucian Grainge issued a decree across his business banning his labels from inking exclusive ‘windowing’ deals with the likes of Apple.
Grainge’s stance on the matter followed the news Apple inking a multi-million dollar deal with Frank Ocean to secure a timed exclusive of his album Blonde, on his own label, Boys Don’t Cry, having released his final album in a Def Jam/UMG contract – the video-driven effort, Endless – in August 2016.
Blonde was released as Apple Music exclusive just one day later.Music Business Worldwide