Apple has reportedly acquired London-based startup Platoon which specializes in A&R, or artists and repertoire, which is industry lingo for spotting and developing new music artists.
Platoon has developed a raft of early-stage artists in the UK and US over the past two years who have gone on to make waves in the global business.
The company worked with the likes of Stateside breakout act Billie Eilish before she signed to Interscope in 2017, in addition to UK stars Stefflon Don and Jorja Smith.
The former went on to sign a seven-figure deal with Universal/Polydor, while the latter inked a distribution deal with Sony’s The Orchard for her debut album, released in June 2018.
Platoon positions itself as a platform “for exceptional independent artists”.
The startup was founded in 2016 by 40-year music industry veteran Denzyl Feigelson and venture capital kingpin Saul Klein, who co-founded defunct British video-on-demand service LoveFilm and was an early executive at Skype.
Platoon offers a range of distribution, funding and marketing services to up-and-coming and unsigned artists—especially to artists who are wired into modern youth culture.
Co-founder Saul Klein’s movie rental service Lovefilm was acquired by Amazon in 2011, becoming the lynchpin of their Prime Video service. Prior to launching Platoon, Feigelson worked with Apple for over 15 years on their live events and artist relations.
According to the report, Feigelson has been tasked with leading Platoon’s team of 12 full-time employees that help emerging artists produce videos as well as to record new music. The company will continue to run as an independent business from its Tileyard headquarters in North London, where it has two recording studios.
“Platoon will continue to support artists across areas including tour support, original content, social media marketing and global expansion strategies,” the story has it.
Music Business Worldwide profiled Feigelson in a separate article:
Feigelson is well-known to the UK music industry, having been an integral part of Apple’s international music strategy—not to mention the 10-year iTunes Festival–for over a decade as a special advisor to the Cupertino giant.
After working on the iTunes US launch in 2003, Feigelson moved to London in 2004 to work on the international expansion of the download platform.
He was a close confidant to the Steve Jobs circle throughout Apple’s third golden age: from the iPod through the iPhone, the iPad, iTunes and into the beginnings of what would become Apple Music.
A source commented on the acquisition:
The Apple deal gives Platoon the backing and resourced to accomplish its vision and continue its goal to develop original music and visual content—while leaving artist free to sign with who they wand and distribute their music where they want.
Platoon scout music talent around the world, which is one of the traditional functions of record labels. Not that Apple has acquired it, the question inevitable arises whether the iPhone maker might be looking to become a record label down the road.
This has been the wet dream of many Apple pundits since the golden age of iTunes. However, as the music landscape has changed quite drastically with the advent of streaming services, we don’t think Apple should become a record label.
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