Apple has acquired artist development startup Platoon, reports TechCrunchPlatoon works with creators to produce and distribute their work, and it uses analytics to target audiences and build marketing strategies. Notable acts Platoon has worked with in the past include Billie Eilish and Jorja Smith.

The acquisition of Platoon could serve to bolster Apple’s Up Next platform, which allocates resources to up-and-coming artists. Rapper 6lack was the first participant in Up Next when it debuted in 2017, and as part of the program, he received marketing perks like an interview and live performance on Beats 1, an appearance on The Late Late Show With James Corden, and more. These tools have appeal to lesser-known and unsigned artists and can help forge long-term relationships between the artist and Apple as their career develops.

Apple has spent a considerable amount investing into an array of music-related businesses over the past couple of years, including music identification app Shazamand Asaii, a music analytics company that’s focused on identifying new and emerging artists.

What Apple plans to do with Platoon is unclear, but it does fall in line with the company’s trend to improve efforts in providing useful tools not only for indie and smaller musicians, but for listeners who interested in discovery. Platoon has a track record of developing acts that later go on to become hits, and it has a reputation for crafting artist-friendly deals, two things that are incredibly appealing from a creator standpoint.

With SoundCloud now offering self-monetization (and Spotify gearing up to launch self-monetization), it looks like Apple is instead banking on the appeal of development to draw artists in before they consider labels or other streaming platforms.

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