Apple’s ‘Big Data’ Drive

Apple has a problem.  Whenever they take (read: buy, because their profits are huge) something, it becomes tainted by association.  Unless I’m the only one whose enthusiasm for the company is, to put it mildly, waning.

I should probably explain what’s going on.

Apple has acquired (bought) a website called Musicmetric.  Musicmetric is a site that allows artists, managers and record labels to see all of their ‘data‘.  So, as an artist, I could check up on where in the world I’m getting the most Facebook likes, the most Google searches, the most legal and illegal downloads, etc., all on one site (and in graphs and charts, rather than 1s and 0s).

It’s designed to help music people create effective marketing campaigns and these ‘data’ models have been hailed as the new A&R.  It’s now easier to find out which artists are gaining traction than ever before (but, equally, musical unknowns might find it harder to break free of obscurity).

Apple has bought the company for an estimated $50million (£33m).

According to an article from The Guardian:

the acquisition looks set to tie in to the company’s plans to relaunch the Beats Music streaming service that it bought as part of a $3bn acquisition of Beats Electronics in 2014.

This makes sense, given that Apple is reportedly working to rebrand Beats Music.  What is unclear is whether everyone else will still be able to use Musicmetric once Beats has relaunched. Will artists and organisations not signed up to Apple’s Beats Music get to use Musicmetric?  Will data from competitor Spotify still be available on the service?

Fortunately there are alternative sites, such as Next Big Sound, that provide similar services, but is it fair of Apple to snap up the most popular and arguably best one?

You could argue it’s just business but Apple is a brand seemingly aimed at two demographics. Tech geeks and young adults (and young tech geeks, I guess).  Its increasing appetite for aggressive corporatismbuying up other companies, suing its rivals, grossly exploiting its workforce – does not sit well with this demographic.  Yes, they are consumers, but they’re not groups famed for Neo-Liberal attitudes.

Perhaps Apple is having a little trouble with its Left and Right – it’s okay, we all have that problem sometimes – but it’s not right-wing politics that young people have been at the forefront of for all these years.

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Completely unrelated aside: I’ve just noticed (or maybe it’s new?) that BBC iPlayer has a little button, which appears in the corner of its picture when you hover your mouse over the video playing, that tells you what music is used in the programme.

That’s so exciting!  It’s a bit of a ‘screw you’ to Shazam, which is interesting in itself, but mainly it’s just cool that the BBC techies have realised that this is something we’re interested in.  Music sync is becoming increasingly important to the biz, and this kind of thing helps facilitate its continuing influence.

Also, for anyone actually using the BBC playlister, (serious question though, is anyone?), iPlayer provides links straight to it so that you can add said songs to your playlist. So it’s a bit of a plug for their playlist service as well.

According to Wikipedia:

BBC Playlister is a personal music platform introduced by the BBC in 2013.[1][2]

It does not carry music itself, but partners with existing online platforms Deezer, YouTube andSpotify to play music from the user’s playlist. Playlister will instead focus on curating personalised music playlists based upon listening to radio stations and radio presenters’ own choices.

Much as I like the idea, it seems a bit surplus to requirement.  But maybe other people are more into building playlists than I am – I’m a bit of a purist; I prefer to listen to one artist at a time.  I don’t tend to make playlists by genre or mood.

The little iPlayer thingymajig still is exciting though. All’s not lost!

Even more unrelated aside: I discovered this while watching Silent Witness – why does Emilia Fox always wake up with perfect hair? And make-up?

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