Apple Acquires Music Analytics Start-Up Asaii to Improve Apple Music [u]

Update: TechCrunch says these reports are false, as Apple has confirmed they are not true:

On the heels of news of not one but two acquisitions from Apple last week, a report surfaced yesterday that Apple had picked up yet another company, the music analytics startup Asaii, for under $100 million; the report led to a “confirmation” from a shareholder in a separate report. But as it turns out, neither appear to be correct.

But we asked and Apple has declined to confirm the deal, and it gave no green light to use its usual statement — the one it often issues when smaller startups are acquired. (You can see a sample of it in this story about Apple buying computer vision startup Spektral last week, which we did get Apple to confirm.) That is, the company has not acquired the assets of the startup.

What it has done is hire a few employees of the company — specifically the three founders, Sony Theakanath, Austin Chen and Chris Zhang — who are all now working at Apple at Apple Music. (Apple has done this before: for example, it hired a team from the mapping app PinDrop in the UK; at the time it was also misreported as an acquisition.)

Apple has acquired music analytics start-up Asaii in a bid to strengthen content recommendations to its music users.

According to a new report from Axios, citing the LinkedIn profiles of founders Sony Theakanath and Austin Chen, Apple has acquired music analytics startup Asaii for less than $100 million USD.

Asaii’s software mainly focuses on two things: discovering new up-and-coming artists and following the performance of the ones you’re interested in/managing. The solution is oriented towards music labels and streaming services, so they can be the first to sign a contract with a potentially big future star.

Asaii’s analytics uses 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.

According to its website, Asaii claims that it can find a hot new artist “10 weeks before they chart.”

The purchase was later seemingly confirmed by the founder of The House, a startup fund that was the first to invest in Asaii. Speaking to Music Ally, The House’s Cameron Baradar said, “As the first investors in Asaii, we are incredibly excited by their recent acquisition by Apple where they will have the opportunity to dramatically scale their impact and continue building out their vision for the future of the music industry.”

The acquisition, which was rumored to cost Apple less than $100 million, is the company’s second music-focused purchase this year. Last month, the company completed its acquisition of Shazam, the popular song-identification service.

Apple’s acquisition comes as its main music streaming rival, Spotify, is expanding its reach beyond traditional mainstream artists. Last month, it announced that it would be letting unsigned artists upload music directly to its platform. In an era when most major artists are available across all streaming services, having a bigger library of up-and-coming unsigned performers could become a key differentiator for streaming services.