Apple’s Eddy Cue Talks iTunes Festival, Explains Why Artists Don’t Get Paid To Perform

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The iTunes Festival, Apple’s 30-day music extravaganza, ended on September 30th with a performance by Katy Perry. Apple broadcasted live streams of all the festival’s shows on iTunes during the month of September, and the concert videos are still available to stream for a limited time.

Apple’s Eddy Cue recently gave an interview to Entertainment Weekly and talked about why artists (and Apple) love the iTunes Festival. He also explained how Apple is leveraging its connections in the music industry for iTunes Radio.

Tickets for the iTunes Festival have always been free and given away by Apple through a lottery system. The Roundhouse venue where the artists perform in London only seats around 2,500, and the severely limited seating combined with the huge headliners Apple brings in creates incredibly high demand. This year’s festival featured acts like Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Kings of Leon, Vampire Weekend, and Elton John. Over 20 million people tried to get tickets.

Concert attendees don’t pay for tickets, and artists don’t get paid by Apple to perform. Cue explains why in the interview:

The artists come in, and they’re not getting paid. They’re here because they know that this is an opportunity for them to play for these fans and in many cases kind of go back to when they were starting out in a smaller venue, get really close and personal. You’ve got this venue that is truly historic and holds 2,500 people, so you’re gonna see these artists that always play in much larger arenas. [Plus] it’s all kinds of music. On one end, you’ve got Lady Gaga and on the other end you’ve got Ludovico, the Italian pianist.

Cue says that the main reason artists come to play “is for them to get close with the fans,” but there are obvious monetary rewards beyond a kumbaya relationship with fans. Several of the artists who performed this year, like Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, and Kings of Leon, have new albums sitting near the top of the iTunes charts right now.

Apple’s Eddy Cue Talks iTunes Festival, Explains Why Artists Don’t Get Paid To Perform

If Apple didn’t stream the iTunes Festival around the world for free, it probably wouldn’t exist today. The exposure that comes from millions upon millions of iTunes users being able to stream your concert is what artists pay for.

When speaking about iTunes Radio in the interview, Cue said Apple made the service because “We thought we could present radio stations for the first time to a customer that’s really tailored to them.”

Big artists are starting to premiere their new albums on iTunes Radio as well. Cue thinks iTunes Radio is a better avenue for discovering music than the iTunes Store. “I think when you go to a store and you go to the Justin Timberlake page and stream it from there, that’s great but that means you went to the store. iTunes Radio lets you discover it without you having to think about it.”

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath is a senior writer at Cult of Mac and co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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