Apple Inc., the world's richest company, is making a documentary with Cash Money Records, one of the world's most successful hip-hop labels.
Cash Money is home to Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj and Drake, with whom Apple already has an exclusive deal. Co-founder Bryan Williams, who performs under the stage name Birdman, posted a picture to his Instagram account on Tuesday alongside Larry Jackson, the head of Apple's original music content, with both executives holding their chins pensively. The photo celebrated Apple agreeing to fund a documentary for the label, according to people familiar with the deal. It is not, as many had speculated after the photo, an agreement to secure all of Cash Money's new albums exclusively, the people said.
The documentary marks another step in Apple's effort to develop television programming. It has signed up Gwyneth Paltrow, Gary Vaynerchuk and will.i.am as judges for its Planet of the Apps reality show, which will see app developers fight it out to win venture capital investment, and in July it secured Carpool Karaoke, a spinoff of the popular segment in CBS's Late Late Show with James Corden where global popstars sing along to their hits as they drive through Los Angeles. It is also funding a six-part miniseries starring Dr Dre called Vital Signs, The Hollywood Reporter reported in February.
Apple has been tentatively investigating ways to expand its television content as it seeks to build on its streaming music service, which was introduced in 2015.
"Views," Drake's fourth studio album, debuted at the top of the charts in May after a one-week exclusive on Apple Music. "Views" has remained near the top of the charts ever since, and ranks at No. 11 as of Aug. 16, according to Billboard. Apple also used a Drake song in an advertisement featuring Taylor Swift. Minaj is a co-owner of Tidal, a rival music service.