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What Does Apple Have in Mind with Platoon Purchase?

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Dec. 14 2018, Published 2:12 p.m. ET

Platoon grooms promising early-stage artists

Apple (AAPL) has acquired early-stage artist development startup Platoon, according to Music Business Worldwide. Platoon has been around since 2016 and is based in London. It operates in the United States as well. Its work centers on finding and grooming up and coming musicians. Notable acts groomed by Platoon include Jacob Banks, Rex Orange County, and YEBBA.

Apple hasn’t disclosed its plans for Platoon. But going by the tightening competition for revenue in the music streaming industry, one could see Platoon helping Apple groom tomorrow’s big shot artists that the company could sign for exclusive contracts as a way to set itself apart from the competition.

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Music streaming providers looking for distinction

Spotify (SPOT), one of Apple’s main competitors in the music streaming industry, has taken to signing early-stage artists directly instead of going through record labels. It’s a strategy that is viewed as designed to help Spotify grow its song library quickly as it seeks to differentiate itself from the competition.

As of May this year, Apple’s music streaming service had already attracted more than 40 million paying listeners. But Spotify had 87 million paying listeners at the end of the third quarter.

Music partnerships

Amid the tightening race for listeners and revenue in the music streaming market, providers are also leveraging partnerships to try to bolster their competitive positions. Apple has partnered with Verizon (VZ) on a program that lets Verizon’s unlimited wireless customers stream Apple Music free of charge for up to six months. Through Verizon, Apple is getting exposure to more than 150 million potential music subscribers in the United States. As for Spotify, it has secured a deal to be the default music app on Samsung (SSNLF) devices. At the same time, Spotify is one of the preferred music apps on Facebook’s (FB) Portal device. For its part, Pandora (P) has cut deals with T-Mobile (TMUS) and Snapchat (SNAP) to help extend its reach.

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