Apple Purchases Asaii, a Music Analytics Startup That Can Find “the Next Justin Bieber.”

Apple’s acquisition of Asaii reveals the company’s two-fold strategy to take on Spotify.

Last month, Asaii, a music analytics program, abruptly announced that it was shutting down.

In an e-mail to customers, the company wrote,

Asaii will [shut] down operations on October 14, 2018.  As of that date, you will no longer have access to our API endpoints, the website, or features such as Asaii Terminal, Recommend, Artist Analytics, and others.  We’ve loved watching the artists you’ve signed, marketing campaigns you’ve launched, and love of bringing data into this industry you’ve shown over the past two years.”

The startup had offered artist managers and labels a music analytics platform for developing artists.  Breaking down data from streaming music services as well as social media, the company’s technology could purportedly find “the next big Justin Bieber…10 weeks to a year” before they rise to fame.

Now, Axios reports Apple has purchased the music analytics startup for under $100 million.  And, the move could help Apple Music better compete against Spotify.

The next frontier of the streaming wars – who can discover the next top artist first?

Apple’s acquisition comes a month after Spotify unveiled a new feature.

The feature allows select indie artists to upload their music directly onto the streaming music service.  Planning for a “perfect release day,” musicians can edit metadata with quick and simple edits.  Along with “a clear report” of how much they earn per play, artists will automatically receive recording royalties in their bank account.  Musicians also won’t face restrictions on frequency, file size, or quantity.

Spotify’s direct upload feature further bridges the gap between indie artists and streaming services.  The move came months after the company revealed it would strike deals with indie musicians and management companies.  Apple’s acquisition sees the company now competing directly with Spotify for indie artists.

Speaking about the acquisition, Cameron Baradar, founder of The House, the first company to invest in Asaii, explained,

As the first investors in Asaii, we are incredibly excited by their recent acquisition by Apple where they will have the opportunity to dramatically scale their impact and continue building out their vision for the future of the music industry.”

That ‘future’ clearly involves discovering the next top indie artists.  In fact, several Asaii staff members are now listed as Apple employees on LinkedIn.

But, don’t expect Apple to stop there.

Apple Music won’t just focus on working with indie artists.  Asaii’s platform also provides managers and labels an effective recommendation algorithm based on listeners’ preferences.

Apple Music could use Asaii’s technology to better recommend music, thus competing with Spotify’s machine learning algorithm.  In an interview earlier this year, Apple CEO Tim Cook blasted Spotify’s effective computer-generated playlists, stating,

We worry about the humanity being drained out of music, about it becoming a bits-and-bytes kind of world instead of the art and craft.

Apple’s acquisition could mark a reversal — or at least a slight modification — of Cook’s policy.


Featured image by Apple Music.