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Apple Invests in Independent Music Company UnitedMasters

Apple’s latest investment: UnitedMasters, which helps artists who don't have a record label to distribute music.

Apple  (AAPL)  is investing in the Brooklyn, N.Y., music-distribution company UnitedMasters, a media report says.

The Cupertino, Calif., tech giant is one of many major companies that have bought  stakes in UnitedMasters, which works with artists who don’t have a traditional record label, Bloomberg News reports.

Other backers include Google parent Alphabet  (GOOGL)  and the Menlo Park, Calif., venture capitalist Andreessen Horowitz, both of which participated in UnitedMasters' Series B funding round in 2017. That financing round raised $50 million. 

UnitedMasters is now valued at $350 million, the company said on Wednesday.

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“The company distributes their music to all the major streaming services, taking a fee rather than commanding ownership of the underlying music,” Bloomberg reported.

The publication noted that the investment is unusual since Apple has its own paid music service, Apple Music, which works with major music labels.

But an Apple services executive, Eddy Cue, said the company saw working with independent artists as a positive, providing “creators with more opportunities to advance their careers and bring their music to the world.”

“The contributions of independent artists play a significant role in driving the continued growth and success of the music industry,” he said in a statement.

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Alphabet also has its own paid music service, YouTube Music.

UBS analysts led by David Vogt now rate Apple stock at buy, up from neutral, with a price target lifted to $142 from $115, Dow Jones reports.

At last check Apple shares were trading 1.5% lower at $121.65.