Apple buys streaming analytics firm Asaii to bolster Apple Music recommendations, report says

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According to an unconfirmed report published Sunday, Apple recently purchased music analytics startup Asaii in an effort to further refine Apple Music recommendations and better integrate with up-and-coming artists.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, Axios reports Apple paid less than $100 million for Asaii. Apple has yet to confirm the deal, though the LinkedIn profiles of Asaii's three co-founders now list the executives at Apple Music.

Founded in 2016, Asaii applied machine learning to the aggregation and analysis of streaming music. Using song playcount and associated data from Apple Music, Facebook, Instagram, SoundCloud, Spotify and Twitter, the firm's technology scoured the internet to deliver new and popular tracks to industry insiders. Like other analytics solutions, Asaii distilled and presented discovered information in an easy-to-use analytics dashboard.

According to the company's website, which is still active as of this writing, the analytics engine leveraged real-time song data to assign an "Assai Score," surfacing hot new artists for A&R executives. Separate products provided a newsfeed for contextualizing social media reach and a tracking module for artist management.

Asaii also marketed Asaii Recommend, an API for streaming services that powered user recommendations, generated algorithmically created playlists and more.

Asaii CEO and co-founder Sony Theakanath and co-founders Austin Chen and Chris Zhang all took positions at Apple in October.

Prior to creating the streaming analytics startup, Theakanath was a software engineer on Apple's Special Projects Team from May 2015 to August 2016, concentrating on Core OS and iAd. Chen also worked at Apple, serving as a global operations manager for four months in 2016.

The Asaii acquisition is expected to bolster Apple Music recommendations and track discovery for end users. Sources said Apple is also looking to compete with Spotify's RISE emerging artist initiative, which leverages the streaming music platform's size to promote up-and-coming musicians.

Apple's reported Asaii acquisition follows its purchase of song identification platform Shazam in December.