With Beats thought to have generated more than $1bn of revenues from selling headphones in 2012, the company is already building up a considerable war-chest to launch its Beats Music streaming service later this year.
Now the company has bolstered its budget even more with a $500m investment from private equity firm Carlyle Group. Its investment is for a “minority stake” according to the Wall Street Journal, and came as tech firm HTC sold its 24.84% stake in Beats back to the company for $265m.
At one point, the HTC partnership had been expected to drive Beats’ growth through incorporating its software into smartphones and tablets, but the former company has struggled in the last couple of years against fierce competition from Samsung in particular.
The WSJ suggests that Beats and HTC will continue working together, but HTC’s exit from the business is likely to open the way for more partnerships – something that could be particularly significant for the rollout of Beats Music.
We’re still awaiting firm details of that service’s launch, including whether it happens this year or slips to 2014. But news of the latest investment makes it clearer than ever that streaming music is going to be an environment for the deepest-pocketed of technology companies in 2014 and beyond.
Apple and Google’s financial might is obvious, and Sony and Microsoft may well be putting more welly behind their services next year too. Rdio is now backed by radio group Cumulus Media, Deezer by WMG’s owner Access Industries, Pandora is raising up to $279.4m by issuing new shares, and Spotify has been rumoured to be seeking debt financing at a valuation of $5.27bn.
It’s high stakes time for streaming music.