According to a confirmed report in Music Business Worldwide, Apple has acquired Platoon, a London startup that works primarily with musicians and other creators like writers — to produce, distribute and sell their work, using analytics to source talent, and figure out the best way to target and market that content: a tech version of traditional A&R services.
Platoon was founded in 2016 by Denzyl Feigelson, Ben Grabiner and Saul Klein.
Apple has expanded its focus into more services that run on its hardware, as sales of iPhones have been slowing down — a global trend resulting from mobile phone saturation across a number of countries.
Its media operations, specifically music, have benefited much from that, as some of Apple’s largest acquisitions have favored that side of the business. Those have included acquiring Shazam and Beats, while expanding the remit of what Apple Music provides to artists on its platform beyond simple access to music tracks.
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.
Spotify made some significant moves in bypassing record labels and working directly with artistes, and Apple could be eyeing up a similar approach in order to get a bigger share of original content.
With musicians collectively making only 12 percent of the $43 billion generated by the music industry last year, it’s no surprise that Apple wants its share.
Apple’s foray into artiste’s services plays into both sides of the marketplace. It could find itself helping the labels source up and coming talent. Already, a number of Platoon’s early finds – including Billie Eilish and Jacob Banks (Interscope), Stefflon Don (Universal/Polydor), and Jorja Smith at Sony, are now signed to major labels.
For those who do not make that leap, on the other hand, Apple can become their digital home by giving them a range of tools to create and distribute their work, providing Apple more access to a catalogue of original content, and maybe even a cut when it’s listened to somewhere else. It’s a hit one way or the other.