Spotify has made some significant moves to bypass record labels and work directly with artists, and there are signs that Apple could be eyeing up a similar approach to get a bigger share of original content.
According to a report in Music Business Worldwide, Apple has acquired Platoon, a startup out of London that works primarily with musicians — but also other creators like writers — to produce (it has its own studios), distribute and sell their work, using analytics to source talent, and figure out the best way to target and market that content: the modern-day tech equivalent of A&R services.
Platoon was founded in 2016 by Denzyl Feigelson, Ben Grabiner, and Saul Klein. Feigelson, Platoon’s CEO, is a music industry vet. Before Feigelson’s 15-year stint at Apple, he founded AWAL — short for “Artists without a Label” — which eventually was acquired by Kobalt.
Apple’s interest in music services dovetails with another current in the tech world. Sales of iPhones have been slowing down, part of a bigger global trend resulting from mobile phone saturation across a number of countries. And so to continue growing its overall revenues, Apple has expanded its focus into more services that run on its hardware.
Its media and specifically music, operations have been a key beneficiary of that, with some of Apple’s largest acquisitions being made to grow that business.
Those have included acquiring Beats and Shazam, expanding the remit of what Apple Music provides to artists on its platform beyond simple access to music tracks (including adding in more analytics, which was the focus of Asaii, which was coincidentally also founded by Apple alums).
It makes sense both in terms of Apple’s own focus on its music business, and also in terms of providing services comparable to that of its closest competitor, Spotify, to address all segments of the music industry.
Labels especially large labels continue to reign supreme, but the massive shift to digital distribution and streaming has opened the door for a wider range of channels for musicians to connect with listeners, and to make money through that experience.
Originally published on www.techcrunch.com