The rumors are true: Drake and Future will release a hotly anticipated mix tape exclusively through iTunes and Apple Music tonight.

It’s still a big deal even if you’re not a particularly big fan of Drake or Future.

The collaborative album, titled What a Time to Be Alive, will stream on Beats 1 Radio at 6 p.m. EST during Drake’s OVO Sound program. Then, two hours later, the album will be released exclusively on iTunes.

This is a masterful move by Apple that might make a lot of people consider switching to its service.

First off, this album is going to be an absolute monster. Drake is no stranger to sudden releases; his last surprise broke Spotify records with 17.3 million streams in 3 days, beating his own record set in 2013 when Nothing Was the Same saw 15.8 million in a week. Future is fresh off the July release of his chart-topping DS2.

That means Apple has managed to surprise fans with a long-rumored collaboration between two of popular music’s most searingly hot artists. An album nobody knew existed until yesterday. No leaks, no teasers.

 

Fine, no big deal.

But to then stream the album via their own (admittedly solid) Beats 1 Radio? In Apple’s tightly controlled, piracy-averse format, it’s basically an old-school live listening session held simultaneously across the globe.

They’ve released an album that’s a surprise and hotly anticipated at the same time. That’s marketing savvy that should have the people at Spotify (to which I am a premium subscriber) scratching their chins.

(I would mention Tidal, but they’re busy changing the game with $25 physical CDs.)

Nobody knows for sure the size or terms of Drake’s deal with Apple — could be zero, could be $19 million — but this album release is a guaranteed blockbuster.

Complain all you want about exclusivity in music; I’m inclined to agree with you. But Apple has managed to spin an album release into something a bit bigger and shared. As a fan of music, it’s thrilling.