It’s no secret that Apple has had a hand in producing video and other content for artists since launching its new Apple Music streaming service. While we’ve known it has been hosting videos for artists using its own video player inside Apple Music, Apple quietly started adding an embed button to the video player that takes it out of Apple Music and makes it sharable across the rest of the web. The feature is notable for a few reasons and could mean big things to come for Apple, video, and its relationship with YouTube and other competitive music and video services…
The new sharing option began appearing sometime in recent weeks as new videos from Drake and the company’s latest Apple Music ad featuring Kenny Chesney included an embed button on Apple’s usual video player. It’s currently hidden, only appearing on the videos in some locations and only when videos are copied from raw webpage code, but it looks to be something Apple could really exploit.
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It’s likely Apple’s main motivation for producing videos and using its own web player is to help bring in exclusive content for Apple Music while promoting one of the service’s differentiators, a feature called Connect that lets artists upload content on-the-fly and interact with fans. Some of the earliest proponents of the service, like artists Pharrell Williams and Drake, released exclusive content through Apple Music that we later found out Apple itself likely helped to produce in one way or another. We later confirmed that Apple was indeed actively hiring video producers for such in-house projects.
Not all artists are using Apple’s video player on Apple Music, however, but there could be big implications if Apple decides to open it up to everyone and possibly get rid of the many YouTube and other external links currently on many artists’ Connect profile pages. It’s already allowing artists to manage their own uploads to Connect through GarageBand and elsewhere, so adding the ability to upload video with its web player wouldn’t be too much of a stretch.
Apple normally uploads all of its video ads to its YouTube accounts. This time around it didn’t add the Kenny Chesney Apple Music ad and instead all sharing online was done through its own video player thanks to the new hidden embed option that we’d discovered. Here’s a look at the ad with the new embed button:
But beyond promoting rival services — YouTube for example has its own paid music streaming service now — it’s not a great experience for Apple Music users to be pulled out of the app and into a browser to another service to watch video. That would be another notable motivator to open up the video uploads to all and an easy way for Apple to make the change and ban sharing from other services, in the name of the best user experience. YouTube also still uses Flash which we know is a pain.
Apple’s own player that is being used by Pharrell, Drake, Kenny Chesney and many other high-profile artists, on the other hand, plays the video directly within the app. And Apple’s player, unlike third-party players, includes an Apple Music link to drive users to the service when embedded on the web. It would make a lot of sense that Apple would want to avoid promoting YouTube through Apple Music and it can only do that if it offers artists another way to easily upload and share video content on the web.
But it could be a sign of even bigger things to come in terms of Apple and video. Apple just launched the fourth generation Apple TV and we reported it’s planning to launch its own video streaming service, not unlike Apple Music but for video, on the Apple TV early next year. Having its own web player could come in handy for sharing video clips and promoting the service in the same way as Apple Music, and having artists upload directly to Apple with its own video player would give it a big catalog of music videos to pull from for the service. And if the new video service perhaps includes creator/upload features like Connect, it would already have the infrastructure in place.
It’s certainly possible the embed option will just be a handy way to share Apple’s content on the web, but Apple has the ability to take it well beyond that. By opening it up to all, it would encourage more artists to go directly to Apple Music with exclusive content, rather than uploading to YouTube or another competitive service first, and it would allow Apple to drive users back to Apple Music by promoting exclusive Connect content across the web for non-subscribers to get a taste.