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Apple pays iTunes Festival performers with promotion instead of cash, Kanye West says

Rapper Kanye West continued his French charm offensive on Friday, once again panning Apple's approach to recruiting talent for its annual iTunes Festival, and in the process revealing that the iPhone maker compensates performers with increased promotional space in the iTunes store rather than cash.

Miami rapper Pitbull performing at the 2014 iTunes Festival in Austin, Texas

Miami rapper Pitbull performing at the 2014 iTunes Festival in Austin, Texas


"I know you might have heard about this thing where I was on stage, like calling Tim Cook out and saying why do you have these guys performing at South by Southwest and you don't want to pay them," West said in an interview at the Cannes Lions festival. "You just want to give us extra space on the iTunes page and stuff, you know."

While not the first time West has commented on the matter, he had not previously said what Apple was offering — if anything — in return for artists' participation in the traditionally month-long festival, for which Apple does not charge admission. The company also streams live and recorded video of each show for free to owners of Macs, iOS devices, and Apple TVs.

Despite the Yeezus performer's disapproval, placement on the iTunes store is hugely valuable for artists. Apple's digital storefront accounts for more than 60 percent of the world's digital music market and a correspondingly large portion of overall music sales.



Those digital sales are declining, however, prompting Apple to explore alternatives in the increasingly important streaming space. Following the lackluster debut of iTunes Radio — considered a mediocre success at best despite its 40 million listeners — Apple purchased Beats Electronics, purveyors of premium headphones and a rapidly-growing subscription streaming service dubbed Beats Music.

The latter tie-up met with West's approval, as the newest Kardashian praised the addition of rap legend Dr. Dre and Interscope Records cofounder Jimmy Iovine to Apple's executive team following the acquisition.

"Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre, it's that they are geniuses. Both of them are cultural geniuses, what they had done for so many years." he said. "And they just, they connected with the right company, by the way. It'