(Originally published on MOLI 8/26/7)
Jay-Z, Beyonce, and Steve Jobs: Howâ€™s that for a power trio? An inside industry source recently told MOLI that itâ€™s a done deal: Popâ€™s top couple will move to Apple to run a new music division. It sounds rather incredible: Carterâ€™s already got a pretty good job, running Def Jam, and Jobs may be too smart to get into the tanking recording business (as others have said). Of course, if it is true, my guess is this would be a new, revamped record biz, one based on digital distribution, not boring old physical products. (To which this writer, by the way, retains an old-school allegiance; I neither download music nor possess an MP3 player. Then again I just left the newspaper business for online, so even old dogs can learn new tricks.) It certainly speaks volumes about the state of the culture industry, if two artists who have been served well by the current way of doing business are willing to jump ship. Spokespeople for Apple, Shawn Carter, and Def Jam (Mr. Carterâ€™s label) did not return requests for comments.
The move would of course follow Paul McCartneyâ€™s move from a traditional label, Capitol, to one run by another entity, Starbucks Music. Starbucks started signing artists after establishing a successful retail model through their Hear Music outlets and compilations. Apple has made a similar achievement with iTunes, to say the least.
Apple is definitely poaching at least one smart guy from a label: Capitol publicist Jason Roth starts at the technology company July 2. He says he knows nothing about the aforementioned rumors.