Drake started from the bottom, now he’s at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference to tell you about a great new product. He took to the stage in San Francisco on Monday with a swagger, joking about the Internet being the next big thing and showing off the vintage Macintosh-computers jacket he’d acquired online. Then he turned to the topic of “the way technology changed what I do for a living,” and … started … talking … more slowly … at times appearing to lose his train of thought.
As is often the case with Drake, there was a everyman-turned-titan narrative to fudge. “I always wondered if my city [Toronto] or country [Canada] would have someone break into the global music scene as a true superstar,” he said. It wasn’t the people in “towering New York label buildings” who helped him become that superstar. It was the Internet, and the ability to release music directly to the public. “This approach is how we broke in 2008,” he said, referring to the blogs, social-media platforms, and mix-tape distribution sites the TV actor used to first build a rap fanbase. “And it has been, of course, perfected and simplified by the great people at Apple.”
Perfected and simplified—that’s the essence of Apple’s pitch for its forthcoming music app. Apple Music gathers three kinds of online music experiences into one place: all-you-can-listen-to streaming a la Spotify, radio stations à la Pandora or I Heart Radio, and a publishing and outreach platform for artists similar to YouTube, Facebook, Tumblr, or Soundcloud. As The Atlantic’s Robinson Meyer has noted, innovation is not on offer, but the rhetoric of the presentation said that consolidating features under the Apple logo will change the industry by making things more convenient and accessible for artists and listeners alike. Supposedly, this will enable more success stories like Drake’s. If it succeeds, it will also shore up the market position of the company whose once-dominant iTunes has been threatened by streaming, though that business imperative went unmentioned.