Apple has bought the London startup behind music analytics service Musicmetric, judging by documents filed with Companies House in the UK earlier this month. The amount that it paid for the company is unknown. Update: The Financial Times is reporting that it may be around $50m.
On 12 January, the company – Semetric – changed its registered address to 100 New Bridge Street, London EC4V 6JA, which is also the registered address of Apple Europe Limited, through its law firm Baker & McKenzie.
The same day, Semetric filed details of the appointment a new director: Gene Daniel Levoff of 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, California – Apple’s global headquarters. Levoff is vice president of corporate law at Apple, as well as a director of Apple Operations International (click on the image below for the relevant section of the document). His appointment as a Semetric director actually happened in October, according to the filing.
“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plan,” Apple told Music Ally – the traditional response that the company provides when questioned about acquisitions that have not been announced. Semetric declined to comment.
Why would Apple buy Semetric, then? Musicmetric launched in 2008 as a way for music industry clients to track social and sales analytics, later adding in streaming data too. Its most recent funding round was $4.8m in January 2013, with backers including Imperial Innovations and Pentech Ventures.
While it has expanded into TV, film, games and books and made headlines with its research into the scale of music piracy online, the core of Semetric’s business remains Musicmetric, with labels and other industry clients paying for its Musicmetric Pro analytics dashboard.
That dashboard could slot neatly into Apple’s plans to relaunch its Beats Music streaming service in the coming months, although it is unclear whether the existing Musicmetric Pro service will continue in the meantime.
The acquisition has implications for other companies, though. Spotify, for example, which has a partnership with Musicmetric to pipe in streaming data for labels to access via the latter’s dashboard.
Just as rival streaming services ended their partnerships with music/tech firm The Echo Nest firm when Spotify bought it last year, so Spotify is unlikely to be too keen on providing a firehose of its data to an Apple subsidiary.
Meanwhile, the news could also have implications for Next Big Sound, which as Musicmetric’s main rival in music analytics could now make a more appealing target for Apple’s competitors.
The acquisition can’t help but bring to mind Spotify’s Echo Nest deal, though. It’s a very different company to Musicmetric – while the latter focuses on streams, downloads and social stats, The Echo Nest was and is more about understanding the relationships between songs and artists, as well as the habits and preferences of streaming users.
Even so, both deals can be seen as part of a wider trend: the ongoing importance of deep data understanding to modern digital music services, as well as to the music rightsholders that they work with.
And it’s another sign that Apple really does mean business with its upcoming digital music reboot. The company has reportedly pushed rightsholders to help it lower the price of a monthly on-demand subscription from its current standard of $9.99 a month, with speculation that it will also push the app for whatever Beats Music becomes to every iPhone and iPad as part of its iOS software in a future update.
This story was originally published in Music Ally’s daily news bulletin. Sign up here for a trial.