Spotify has taken a number of important steps to bypass record labels and collaborate directly with artists, and there are signs that Apple might approach a similar approach to get a larger share of the original content.
According to a report in Music Business Worldwide and confirmed by us with sources close to the deal, Apple has acquired Platoon, a start-up from London that mainly works with musicians – but also other creators such as writers – to produce (the has his own studio & # 39; s), distribute and sell their work, using analytics to source talent, and find the best way to target and market that content: the modern technical equivalent of A & R services.
We have reached both Apple and the platoon to confirm the takeover. Sometimes Apple's deals are not complete acquisitions, but they involve people, such as in the case of a startup for music, working in analytics called Asaii. However, we have gone through this story before we hear back because our source tells us that this is definitely an acquisition & # 39; is.
Platoon was founded in 2016 by Denzyl Feigelson, Ben Grabiner and Saul Klein.
Feigelson is a veterinarian in the music industry. Earlier an executive at Apple in iTunes, he describes himself as a "long-term advisor" for the company in areas such as Apple Music and live events.
Prior to Feigelson's 15-year period at Apple, he founded AWAL – short for "Artists Without A Label" – which was eventually acquired by Kobalt. (Ironically, Kobalt, the Google-backed startup that helps musicians collect royalties directly over digital streaming platforms, also with label services.)
Grabiner and Klein now have a double connection with Platoon via VC company Local Globe, which seems to have been the only investor in the start-up. According to PitchBook, the pack has raised about $ 600,000 and was last valued for a modest $ 3.78 million.
Grabiner left Local Globe to become Platoon's GM; Klein, co-founder of the VC who is still active there, is on the platoon board.
Apple's interest in music services is in line with another trend in the technical world. Sales of iPhones have slowed, part of a larger global trend due to cell phone saturation in a number of countries. And so Apple has shifted the focus to more services running on the hardware.
The media, and especially the music, were the main beneficiaries of this, with some of Apple's biggest acquisitions being made to grow that business. These include the acquisition of Beats and Shazam, so the range of what Apple Music offers to artists on its platform goes beyond access to music tracks (including the addition of more analytics, which was the focus of Asaii, which happened to be also by Apple alums was established).
It is logical, both in terms of Apple's own focus on its music business, and in terms of providing services similar to those of its closest competitor, Spotify, to address all segments of the music industry.
Labels – especially big labels – remain the boss, but the massive shift to digital distribution and streaming has opened the door to a wider range of channels for musicians to connect with listeners and to make money with that experience.
And it's no surprise that they want to: musicians together have generated only 12 percent of the $ 43 billion generated by the music industry last year.
Apple makes a stronger transition to services for artists playing on both sides of the market.
On the one hand, it can help the labels to drive up-and-coming talent. Indeed, a number of platoons early finds have now been signed with major labels. (They include Billie Eilish and Jacob Banks at Interscope, Stefflon Don at Universal / Polydor, Jorja Smith at Sony.)
On the other hand, for those who do not make that leap and those who do, Apple can find a route to become their digital home (potentially exclusive, but potentially on a number of platforms) by offering them a suite of tools to create and distribute their work. That gives Apple more access to a catalog with original content and perhaps even a cut when it is listened to elsewhere, making it a potential hit in one way or another.
We update this post as we receive more information.