Why Apple just spent up to $50 million for a music data company

Apple has acquired U.K.-based music data startup Semetric, which is better known for its Musicmetric service. Apple declined to provide details on the acquisition, which was first reported by Musically, but the company spent as much as $50 million for Semetric, according to the Financial Times.

So why did Apple spend up to $50 million for music data? An easy answer is that the company is working on relaunching its Beats subscription music streaming service, with the goal of possibly integrating it into iTunes. Musicmetric could help to add social components to it by analyzing which tracks and artists are most popular.

Musicmetric's Fantracker.

Musicmetric’s Fantracker.

However, there seems to be more to this acquisition: Musicmetric is first and foremost an industry resource, providing artists and labels with detailed statistics on their performance on Twitter, Facebook and select music services. The growing importance of this kind of data shows that the music industry itself is changing — as the business is moving from the sale of music as a product to services and experiences, data is becoming increasingly important, and helping bands and labels make the most of it could help to make up for some of the lower royalties that have irked musicians, and occasionally pushed them to remove their music from streaming services altogether.

To learn more about the importance of data in this new music industry, make sure to check out our Structure Data conference in New York in March, where Spotify’s Principal Music Scientist Brian Whitman will be talking about how his company is trying to reinvent the music business with computers that can hear.