Apple in Talks to Buy Stake in U.S. Radio Group iHeartMedia

Apple has held talks with iHeartMedia to buy a stake in the U.S. radio company, according to a new Financial Times report citing people familiar with the matter.

iheartmedia logo full color
iHeartMedia is currently $20 billion in debt, with audiences gradually turning away from radio in favor of digital music services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora. The radio group filed for bankruptcy in March, and has been in contact with several potential investors ahead of a deadline later this month to file a reorganization plan with the bankruptcy court.

iHeartMedia is hoping Apple will take an equity stake worth millions of dollars, according to FT sources, although discussions between the two companies are still in the early stages and no deal has been agreed. Apple declined to comment, while iHeartMedia did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The report suggests Apple is angling for a deal in order to gain a platform for wider distribution of its Beats 1 radio station and increase awareness of Apple Music:

A partnership could see Apple Music’s Beats 1 radio station, which is only available through its apps, make its debut on broadcast radio. Extra distribution would give Beats 1 and Apple Music greater awareness among older audiences who are later adopters of streaming services. A deal would also put the Apple station into more cars or kitchens.

Despite being billions of dollars in debt, iHeartMedia remains the largest radio broadcaster in the United States, with more than 850 stations operating across the country. One music industry executive who spoke to FT described the potential deal as a "power move" by Apple, as it aims to persuade more artists and labels to strike exclusive or early releases for its streaming service instead of its biggest rival, Spotify.

Apple Music surpassed 50 million subscribers and free trial users earlier this year, giving it a bigger share of listeners in the U.S. than Spotify, although Spotify is still the global leader with more than 80 million paying users around the world. Earlier this year, Apple acquired music recognition app Shazam for $400 million in order to improve Apple Music's listening recommendations.

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Top Rated Comments

Rogifan Avatar
74 months ago
Ugh iHeart stations are the worst, just top 40 crap. In my market they took a really great station that played adult alternative (AAA) format and turned it into a top 40 (CHR) format, a clone of another station they owned in the market. Now they’re morphing it into Hot AC. The only stations in my market that play decent music are public radio stations.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rednip Avatar
74 months ago
Iheartmedia is well known for its right wing leanings. I would seriously reconsider my Apple Music subscription if they were to bail out that cesspool of reactionary lunacy.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AngerDanger Avatar
74 months ago
I wonder if there was a brief moment of panic when Apple first made contact that they were taking legal action against the iHeart branding.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
wigby Avatar
74 months ago
Iheartmedia is well known for its right wing leanings. I would seriously reconsider my Apple Music subscription if they were to bail out that cesspool of reactionary lunacy.
Or maybe you should seriously consider listening to iheartmedia stations since Apple would be infusing their own brand and ideals into it as a big investor. All opinions (political and otherwise) are up for sale to the highest bidder.
[doublepost=1541077779][/doublepost]"Extra distribution would give Beats 1 and Apple Music greater awareness among older audiences who are later adopters of streaming services."

If you've ever listened to Beats 1, the one thing you can count on is that their demographic is anything but an older audience. Apple needs to break out Beats 1 into many genres if they want to attract demographics other than 15-18 year old urban youth.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ipedro Avatar
74 months ago
I love the concept of Beats 1 and that Apple is investing into the platform. MCs and curated music are not dead. Sometimes you just want the company of another voice and to have music played for you without much thought.

But, Beats 1 is far too US and UK centric. That means way too much hip hop/rap/trap and grime. Apple needs to break off into local stations for major cities with Beats 1 then playing the best of each station that might appeal to a global audience. I’d love a Beats Toronto, Beats Tokyo, Beats Rio, Beats Johannesburg...
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bruinsrme Avatar
74 months ago
Wait! $20 billion in debt?
That had to be a typo
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)