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Apple’s Classical Ambitions: Embracing BIS Records and Beyond

By Michael Vincent on September 11, 2023

Apple, a dominant player in the world of music streaming, has acquired the renowned 50-year-old Swedish label BIS Records. With BIS known for its mastery of early and contemporary classical pieces, it’s evident that Apple is looking to expand classical music ambitions.

Apple’s Classical Moves

Apple’s foray into the classical sector began with the surprise acquisition of the classical music streaming platform Primephonic in 2021. Two years later, Apple Music Classical, a music streaming app boasting an initial catalogue of a staggering 5 million tracks, was launched.

The goal was to provide a custom classical music streaming platform to solve many of the failings of Apple Music’s clumsy treatment of classical music, especially with search. With countless versions of the same works, differentiation has become an issue that can be solved with expert curation.

In comes BIS Records, a label conceived by Robert von Bahr in the picturesque town of Akersberga, Sweden, in 1973. It quickly developed a reputation for its meticulous selection of classical pieces, ranging from the early Renaissance to avant-garde contemporary compositions.

Audio Excellence

BIS and Apple, both connoisseurs in their fields, share a commitment to top-notch audio quality. This alignment ensures that classical enthusiasts benefit from the finest audio experiences. Robert von Bahr, in expressing his support for the merger, highlighted this shared commitment, signifying a new era of musical consumption where technology and timeless compositions meld seamlessly.

Business Case

According to recent statistics, over 80% of today’s music consumption is via streaming, with 0.8% of that dedicated to classical music. It’s not huge, but potentially very lucrative if Apple can capture the market share.

Blueprint for the Future

Post-acquisition, BIS Records will find a home in Apple Music Classical. Understanding the value BIS brings, Apple has ensured continuity, retaining the entire BIS team, from its dynamic founder, Robert von Bahr, to its dedicated sound engineers.

Big Picture

Apple’s endeavours into the classical landscape are about more than diversifying its portfolio; it’s a testament to the timeless allure of classical music and its place in the digital age. As other industry stalwarts like Deutsche Grammophon’s STAGE+ and UMG’s acquisition of Hyperion Records make their moves, a fascinating transformation is underway. We’re witnessing the evolution of classical music’s consumption — where centuries-old compositions are being delivered through cutting-edge technology, creating an amalgamation of the past, present, and future.

Michael Vincent
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