clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Apple wants to make its own movies and TV shows — to help it compete with Spotify

Buy Apple Music for $10 a month and get some free TV shows, too?

Annual Allen And Co. Investors Meeting Draws CEO's And Business Leaders To Sun Valley, Idaho
Apple media boss Eddy Cue
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Apple’s on-again, off-again flirtation with Hollywood is back on again: The company is talking to TV and movie studios about making its own versions of “Westworld” and “Stranger Things.”

But Apple, at least for now, doesn’t want to compete with HBO and Netflix. It wants to make its own stuff to help it compete with ... Spotify.

The idea, per a Wall Street Journal report this morning, is for Apple to make a couple of big-budget, high-profile shows, and possibly movies, and show them exclusively to Apple Music subscribers.

That is: Apple doesn’t want to start its own video service. It just wants to make its own music service stronger.

That’s not nearly as exciting as Apple going full-bore into TV and movies — an idea industry observers have speculated about forever, and Apple occasionally flirts with.

But it is consistent with Apple’s strategy to boost Apple Music over the past couple years: It has been paying recording artists like Frank Ocean for exclusive windows to release their music, and it has also been funding exclusive video projects for artists like Ocean, Drake and Taylor Swift.

All of those deals are marketing for Apple Music. The new projects would be, too.

This is also apparently the thinking behind the TV show Apple has already said it is making: “Planet of the Apps,” a “Shark Tank” meets “The Voice” meets the App Store concept that Apple will debut this year. But industry sources believe that show, at least, may eventually end up on conventional TV after debuting on Apple platforms.

But while Frank Ocean exclusives make sense as marketing strategy for Apple Music, it’s not clear how “Planet of the Apps” will help sell $10-a-month music subscriptions. That said, Spotify has been trying, without any obvious traction, to build up a video offering of its own, so there’s some kind of symmetry there.

One thing we do know for sure: Apple media boss Eddy Cue, along with Planet of the Apps producer Ben Silverman, will be appearing at Recode’s Code Media conference in a month. So we’ll get a chance to ask them about all of this directly. You can join us by signing up here.

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.