Apple Music launches with new Pharrell single ‘Freedom’

Pharrell Williams debuted the new track "Freedom" on Apple Music.
(Chris Pizzello, AP)

Apple Music officially launched Tuesday, and right out of the gate, it has its first exclusive single.

“Freedom” is the new cut from Pharrell Williams, and it’s the chosen anthem for the service’s early days. The track is a piano-driven, upbeat soul number that replaces the contented sheen of “Happy” with more exultant vocals and live-band urgency.

Williams performed it at Glastonbury last weekend (and Apple quietly used a bit of it during its announcement of the service earlier this month). But the song is getting most of its attention as the first piece of premiered content on Apple Music.

The single debuted on Beats 1, the live-streaming radio station launched to coincide with Apple’s streaming service. While Williams will be a regular contributor to the station, Apple’s new marquee, DJ Zane Lowe, premiered it during his inaugural programming block.


“Freedom” is not yet available for sale on iTunes, but the song and its accompanying video are up now at Apple Music. Other services like Tidal have banked on exclusive material and premieres to differentiate themselves from similar services. But Apple Music could represent an entirely new economy of scale for behind-the-paywall material to still break out and become a hit.

Also notable? Apple Music’s “New” tab points you directly to Taylor Swift’s “1989" — a big, bright reminder to fans that the company has buried the hatchet with Swift and has her newest material for streaming (it’s also a bit of a thumb in the eye to Spotify, which doesn’t have the album).

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