Biting Into The Latest Revival Of That “Jay-Z And Apple Are Going To Put On A Big Show” Rumor

noah | January 3, 2008 9:30 am

Gadget-obsessed blogs are atwitter with the recently revived rumor that Jay-Z would be teaming up to start a label with Steve Jobs and Apple, with the Boy Genius Report citing “a high-up person attached to Jay (no, not who you’re thinking)*” as saying it’s a go and that the label will be announced at the next MacWorld conference. But even though Jay-Z has a pretty an open calendar as far as music-biz-related executiveships go, is this chatter just a little bit of a far-fetched fanboy fantasy? Takes from around the blogosphere after the jump. (The naysayers seem to have a little more weight to their arguments–i.e., they go beyond “OMG!!!!111”–but that could be my “oh, this is old news/well they sure kissed and made up fast after the whole American Gangster-sales kerfuffle/hey where’s Beyonce in this version of the rumor anyway?” impulse talking.)

OMGGGG11!!!111!!1 KILL THE RECORD INDUSTRY FOREVER!! • “Jay-Z and Jobs are both brilliant businessmen, and the move would make sense on a number of levels: The labels almost view iTunes as a competitor now, the industry landscape is rapidly transforming, and whoever finds the magic formula for a new kind of label/distribution firm stands to make a lot of money as they establish the new paradigm of the industry. And iTunes already is something like a label.” [Gizmodo]

• “[Y]ou can probably be sure that whatever music is made through this new label will only be available via iTunes and I would have to imagine giving Steve Jobs’ rant early last year, will be DRM-free…. All I know is that if this rumor is true, it’s going to be another massive blow to the traditional record companies.” [ParisLemon]

No Way • “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…” [Cult Of Mac]

• “While we’re sure there’s a nugget of truth to this, Jobs would be shooting himself in the foot if he started an Apple-branded label. Let’s break down why this is kinda goofy. The idea is that Jay-Z, whom recently left Def Jam, will launch a label partnered with Apple. The problem is, Steve Jobs can’t do that; the other labels would call shenanigans (rightly so, too) and jump ship, there would be federal trust issues at play, and more importantly, Apple is banned from ever starting a record label due to previous litigation with the Beatle’s Apple Records. If those aren’t good enough reasons for you, then we don’t know what else to say. That doesn’t mean, though, that Jay-Z isn’t starting a label himself, in fact that’s likely. And we wouldn’t put it past the genius to make it the first mainstream digital downloads-only label. In fact, we’d not be surprised if he made an exclusive distribution deal with Apple. That would totally make sense, and not really cause any of the previously mentioned headaches.” [CrunchGear]

Maybe? “I can tell you that Jay flat out denied this when somebody asked him about it back in October…. I can’t tell you if this is actually going to happen or not, but I do know that the music industry needs some kind of earth shattering wake up call. This may or may not turn out to be it. Something needs to be done sooner rather than later.” [Nah Right]

* Uh, who would we be thinking of? Jermaine Dupri?

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