On Friday, TechCrunch reported that Apple had agreed to acquire music discovery service and app-maker Shazam. Today, Apple made it official confirming the deal to BuzzFeed News. Shazam, which makes iOS, watchOS, and macOS apps that can detect songs, TV shows, and advertisements from their sound signatures, has been on Apple’s platforms since the early days of iOS and is the engine behind Siri’s ability to recognize songs.
The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed in the announcement, but according to TechCrunch, Shazam cost Apple somewhere in the neighborhood of $400 million. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal last year, Shazam accounts for about 1 million clicks per day and 10% of digital download sales. However, as streaming services have gained popularity over paid music downloads, Shazam’s affiliate link revenue from music sales has shrunken. To compensate, Shazam has turned increasingly to advertising. With today’s acquisition, Shazam should continue to drive traffic to Apple Music without the need to sustain itself as a standalone business.
In addition to Apple’s music services, Shazam sends significant traffic to Spotify. Shazam also has an Android app. It remains to be seen what will happen to the Spotify relationship or Android app now that Shazam is part of Apple or whether Apple plans to maintain Shazam as a separate iOS app. Deeper integration with Siri is one direction Apple may take Shazam’s technology implementing something like the Google Pixel 2’s automatic song identification feature called ‘Now Playing.’
Past MacStories coverage of Shazam is available here.
Ingrid Lunden, writing for TechCrunch:
As Spotify continues to inch towards a public listing, Apple is making a move of its own to step up its game in music services. Sources tell us that the company is close to acquiring Shazam, the popular app that lets people identify any song, TV show, film or advert in seconds, by listening to an audio clip or (in the case of, say, an ad) a visual fragment, and then takes you to content relevant to that search.
We have heard that the deal is being signed this week, and will be announced on Monday, although that could always change.
Assuming that Apple keeps Shazam's standalone app around in the short term, I wonder if the built-in Spotify integration for streaming and saving songs will remain (I wouldn't be surprised if it gets pulled). I'm a fan of Shazam's iPhone and Watch apps, but it'd be great to have Shazam baked into Siri without having to ask any special song recognition command. Shazam's discovery and recommendation features could also tie in nicely with Apple Music.
Just ahead of Thanksgiving in the United States, Apple posted their annual holiday ad on YouTube earlier today. The company's holiday commercials have become a tradition in recent years, and they tend to carry a message that goes beyond advertising the specific features of Apple products.
This year's ad, titled Sway, is all about AirPods and Apple Music. The video is set on Tuesday, December 19, and follows a woman who starts dancing and walking down a street as she listen to Sam Smith's Palace on her AirPods. The performance continues after she bumps into a man walking by and the two start dancing together in the snow while sharing AirPods. The ad cuts back to reality and the tagline "move someone this holiday" appears. As with holiday ads in previous years, Apple picked a beautiful song to accompany the video; the incredible choreography nicely complements the idea of sharing a moment with someone through music.
Apple's 2017 holiday commercial follows last year's 'Frankie's Holiday' and 2015's 'Someday at Christmas' featuring Andra Day and Steve Wonder. You can watch the video below.
For the better part of this year, I’ve been using both Spotify and Apple Music. In my opinion, each service does a few things exceptionally well, but, unfortunately, I can’t have all of them in a single music app.
Spotify’s discovery tools for both old and new songs are simply unparalleled in the industry: Discover Weekly continues to surprise me on a weekly basis just like mixtapes used to do. Spotify is everywhere (including my Amazon Echo); I like how it organizes releases on artist pages; and, it’s got a richer selection of user-generated playlists. Apple Music, on the other hand, looks much better than Spotify (I love Apple’s focus on album artworks and large photography), features built-in lyrics, is deeply integrated with the Apple ecosystem, and I’m a fan of the social feed launched with iOS 11. In short: Spotify is superior when it comes to discovery for music aficionados and integration with third-party hardware, but Apple Music is nicer and easier to use for iOS users. I can’t choose because I happen to have a foot in both camps.
Billboard spoke to executive Jimmy Iovine, creative director, Zane Lowe, and head of content, Larry Jackson, about the direction of the music industry and Apple’s roll in its future.
During the interview, Iovine revealed that Apple Music subscriptions have topped 30 million, which is up from the 27 million subscribers quoted during WWDC in June. That’s still materially behind the 60 million subscribers claimed by Spotify, which is planning to go public later this year.
Iovine’s reaction is that the state of streaming today is not enough, but he remains upbeat projecting his trademark enthusiasm in the interview:
“I believe we’re in the right place, we have the right people and the right attitude to not settle for what exists right now.” But ultimately? “Just because we’re adding millions of subscribers and the old catalog numbers are going up, that’s not the trick. That’s just not going to hold.”
The interview is light on specifics about what’s next for Apple Music and what it will take to move streaming forward, but it’s clear from Lowe’s response to how he thinks music streaming must change that the answer involves more than just the streaming music itself:
We need to put context and stories around music. The song itself is obviously the primary passion point -- it’s a key that opens the door. But what’s inside the room that is going to make a fan a super fan? Music has become quicker, faster, and there’s more of it. That doesn't mean you shouldn't create a story around something that is beautiful and that lives and breathes.
Apple Music’s moves into video production, advertising, and similar areas, which are discussed during the interview, may provide a hint of what’s on the horizon. The goal of drawing listeners into the stories behind their favorite artists and music to help grow the audience feels a lot like a reimagining of what was attempted without much success with Apple Music Connect.
Apple confirmed to Music Business Worldwide that the Apple Music Festival is coming to an end. The event, which was originally called the iTunes Music Festival, debuted in 2007. Over the course of 10 years the festival showcased some of the biggest names in music, as well as up-and-coming acts:
Artists who played the event over its decade-long run included Adele, Oasis, Mumford & Sons, Paul Simon, Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, Lady Gaga, Arctic Monkeys, Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell Williams (pictured), The Weeknd, One Direction and Beck.
The 2016 line-up included Elton John, The 1975, Chance The Rapper and Alicia Keys.
Music Business Worldwide says it expects Apple will concentrate on one-off concerts in the future and that ending the Apple Music Festival does not signal the end of the company’s involvement in live music events. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Apple-sponsored live shows either, but I will miss the Apple Music Festival, especially streaming it to my Apple TV.
Last night Apple launched the premiere of its second original television series, Carpool Karaoke. Like Planet of the Apps before it, Carpool Karaoke will release new episodes every Tuesday for Apple Music subscribers. It can be accessed from the ‘TV & Movies’ section of the Apple Music app’s ‘Browse’ tab. Alternately, you can also find it in Apple’s standalone TV app, which Apple Music has a direct integration with.
The premiere episode of Carpool Karaoke is twenty minutes and features James Corden and Will Smith. The concept for the series comes from the popular segment on “The Late Late Show” where Corden rides around with a celebrity singing songs and exploring the city. Based on previews for the series, Corden will only appear in one other episode of Apple’s spinoff this season, while other episodes will contain a host of other celebrity groupings.
You can see a six-minute clip of the series’ first episode below, followed by an extended preview of the upcoming season.
Apple announced today that its next original TV series, Carpool Karaoke: The Series, will premiere on August 8th and air new episodes every Tuesday from that point on. Like its first show, Planet of the Apps, Carpool Karaoke will be released exclusively for Apple Music subscribers.
A new promo trailer for the series was released today alongside the date announcement. It features short clips from many upcoming episodes, showing off a variety of guest star pairings including:
- James Corden and LeBron James;
- Ariana Grande and Seth MacFarlane;
- Planet of the Apps advisors Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow, and will.i.am;
- Shaquille O’Neal and John Cena;
- Alicia Keys and John Legend;
- And several more.
PayPal announced that its payment service is coming to the App Store, Apple Music, iTunes, and iBooks on iOS devices and Macs today, starting in Canada and Mexico with the US and other countries to follow soon. Setting up PayPal works the same as adding a credit card:
Paying with PayPal is simple. Customers with a new or existing Apple ID can select “PayPal” as their payment method from their account settings in the App Store, Apple Music, iTunes [and iBooks] from their iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Mac, or on iTunes from their PC.
After PayPal is enabled, purchases from the selected Apple ID will be made from the customer’s PayPal account.
Adding PayPal should expand the universe of customers making purchases from Apple’s stores by creating an alternative for people who don’t have or don’t want to use a credit card.