Roughly once a month, Apple quietly purchases a small company — or just hires its key employees — to add some new twist or features to its existing capabilities. Now it has reportedly acquired Asaii, a two-year-old music analytics company that claimed to be able to spot upcoming hit artists 10 weeks before they chart.
Asaii’s analytics used data from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Apple Music, SoundCloud, Spotify, and YouTube to identify little-known talent that had the potential to become bigger hits. The company offered a dashboard that could locate and manage new talent, as well as an API so existing music services could recommend “if you like this” artists.
Apple’s interest in Asaii dovetails with a significant transition taking place inside its Apple Music division. The recent move of top artist spotter and handler Jimmy Iovine from a leadership role to consulting means Apple could benefit from alternative ways to cultivate new artists.
Asaii apparently shut down customer-facing operations yesterday, and it’s unknown whether the company’s tools will become available through iTunes Connect and Apple Music or become proprietary within Apple. Apple’s ability to market itself as a continued supporter of both known and unknown talent has been a major advantage for its music business since the iPod days.
While Apple hasn’t officially confirmed the acquisition, the deal was reported by Axios and subsequently trumpeted by Asaii’s first investor, incubator the House, to Music Ally. The deal’s value is said to be under $100 million, and Asaii’s founders are now listed on LinkedIn as working on the Apple Music team.
Update at 9:15 a.m. Pacific, October 16: Despite Apple’s lack of official comment on the reported acquisition, subsequent reports suggest that the company likely “acquihired” Asaii’s co-founders, and despite its investor’s claim, may not have purchased the company itself. Regardless, Asaii said that it was shutting down as of October 14, and its key personnel are now working for Apple.