September 14, 2005: Apple embraces exclusive music releases by debuting a digital EP from Coldplay on iTunes, featuring four previously-unheard tracks from the enormously popular band.
100 percent of profits from the charity EP go to support victims of Hurricane Katrina. However, Apple’s ability to broker exclusive music deals with major record labels and popular artists shows that the company’s current exclusives-driven Apple Music strategy stretches back more than a decade.
The $2.99 charity EP includes two songs, “Pour Me” and “The World Turned Upside Down,” previously unreleased in the U.S., and two additional remixes of the group’s “Fix You” hit single from Coldplay’s then-new album X&Y. Money goes to the American Red Cross Hurricane 2005 Relief and the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences’ MusiCares Hurricane Relief Fund.
As noted, today’s “Today in Apple history” is significant because it shows that Apple has long since been able to negotiate music exclusives that would be out of reach for many companies. In 2005, Apple’s music offering was still comparatively paltry — still crowing about offering a catalog of 1 million songs and “just” 100 million song downloads.
Despite this, the fact that downloading music was still relatively new was enough to make Apple the world’s no. 1 online music service as a result.
In 2016, exclusives remain a key part of Apple’s music strategy, with artists as varied as Drake, Taylor Swift, Britney Spears and Dr. Dre all launching new material on Apple’s music platform. Apple has also turned its ability to get artists to perform under its umbrella into a highly-succesful Apple Music Festival, celebrating ten years this fall.
On a sad trivia note, a live version of Coldplay’s “Fix You” was played at Steve Jobs’ memorial service in Cupertino on October 19, 2011.
“We won’t keep you too long,” lead singer Chris Martin told the crowd. “We know Steve would want you to get back to work.”