Certain rumor-mongers (Boy Genius Report, specifically) today made the prospect of an online-only record label owned by Apple and headed by Jay-Z the hot rumor for this year’s MacWorld. After all, Jay-Z just quit as president of Def Jam — he must be going to work for Apple.
Don’t believe the hype. Jay’s tenure at Def Jam was far from an overwhelming success, and he starred in an HP commercial. That alone would give Apple pause in most cases. Secondly, I don’t see what Apple gains by sharing their venture with Jay as the executive in charge. The company would be much better served following the cue of Starbucks and launching a label with high-profile, established artists making new, high-margin recordings under tight distribution. And, on that level, the source of this rumor becomes a bit more clear. I do believe it’s possible that Apple might launch a record label — they got clearance from the last deal with Apple Corps, if I recall correctly. It might even be iTunes-only. But if Jay-Z’s involved, it’s for a recording contract — not as business leader. Then again, “launching” a label could easily mean putting out the first album…