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Apple Music, NBA Strike Deal for Playlist, Songs in Highlights

Mark Gurman and Scott Soshnick

(Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. and the National Basketball Association on Thursday announced a partnership that includes an Apple Music playlist featuring independent artists from an emerging label.

The Base:Line playlist will have about 40 songs with a hip-hop vibe and will be refreshed weekly, Jeff Marsilio, the NBA’s senior vice president of new media distribution, said in an interview. The tracks will also be available on the NBA app and website, and will be used in game highlights shared on social media, the NBA said.

Eddy Cue, Apple’s services chief and a well-known NBA fan, was involved in the deal. He said Apple is excited about the partnership and that the playlist is designed to support emerging and established independent “urban artists.”

While the playlist will be maintained by Apple, many of the songs will come from UnitedMasters, a relatively new music label that connects about 190,000 independent artists to audiences through direct partnerships with brands.

“There’s more supply than the conventional legacy labels can handle,” UnitedMasters founder Steve Stoute said in an interview. “Artists today are getting to audiences before getting to a record company.”

Apple is relying on digital services to buoy revenue as growth of hardware products like the iPhone slows. Apple Music has more than 60 million paying subscribers, trailing Spotify Technology SA globally. New partnerships such as the NBA deal may bring in new subscribers who are fans of the game.

To contact the reporters on this story: Mark Gurman in Los Angeles at mgurman1@bloomberg.net;Scott Soshnick in New York at ssoshnick@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net, Alistair Barr, Molly Schuetz

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