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Home Hi-Fi Apple buys BIS – What’s Going On?

Apple buys BIS – What’s Going On?

Apple buys BIS – What’s Going On?

Swedish classical label BIS has a surprising announcement on their website: Apple has acquired the label. According to BIS because “Apple and BIS share a fundamental belief in the importance of preserving audio quality”. A statement that causes slightly raised eyebrows among the Alpha Audio editors. Yes, the music is offered lossless, but playing music lossless from the Apple Classical Music app is a challenge, unless you value Airplay2 as the ultimate in audio quality reproduction.

BIS is a frontrunner in digital distribution

BIS is one of the larger niche classical labels. BIS has created an impressive catalogue over the past 50 years, with many wonderful recordings. They have nurtured young talents to become world stars, such as Swedish clarinettist Martin Fröst. Ronald Brautigam, the Dutch master on the forte piano, also releases his recordings with BIS.

Besides BIS, Robert von Bahr initiated the classical webshop eclassical.com back in 1999, which charges a unit price based on the length of an album or track. You literally pay per second. Robert has never been averse to experiments for making classical music more accessible. Eclassical.com does not seem to be part of the acquisition.

Remains the intriguing question: what is Apple up to with classical music? After the acquisition of the Dutch company Primephonic and the release of the Apple Music Classical app, the addition of a recording label, including their recording engineers, is food for thought for the Alpha editors to gaze in their glass globe and read the future.

Bring the concert hall experience to the sofa at home

Besides BIS, there are many similar classical labels, often started by a single engineer, that eventually face a continuity issue. Think of labels such as the Dutch Channel Classics and Pentatone, or the British Chandos and Hyperion. These labels, like BIS, have high-quality recordings, often recorded in multichannel. Perhaps a clue can be found in this phrase: “[…] Apple’s dedication to sound, as well as to Spatial Audio, is something I have followed with interest.”

Many labels are convinced of the added value of multichannel playback for classical music, but consumers are not very keen on it. Spatial Audio is targeted mainly in the world of headphones, making it much more accessible. Add to that the Apple Vision augmented reality glasses and you can imagine Apple using technology to bring the classical music experience to a wider audience. With BIS, they acquire the technical knowledge of multichannel recordings, a large catalogue of original recording material, as well as contracts with top musicians, which allows them to market something new on a large scale. If there is a technology company that can introduce a streamlined user experience to the masses, it is Apple.

The future will tell whether you should place any value on the Alpha editors’ predictive ability though.