Reports are surfacing that Apple will announce a label deal with Jay-Z during the upcoming MacWorld conference. The speculation is that as record companies influence erodes with artists and consumers alike, recording artists as successful as Jay-Z may simply need online distribution only, while doing away with or limiting production of physical product. Of course, not all artists have the ability to do this, but as key artists shun the confines of the major label system, we’ll see more of these deals in the coming months.
Recently, Jay-Z stepped down as President of Def Jam, which may have been the first step in the transition to Apple. UMG CEO Doug Morris has yet to respond. A departure of this magnitude could shake the foundation of UMG and put Morris in a defensive position. In 2007, Morris lobbed a couple of missiles in at Apple in an attempt to dislodge the company from its position as the digital sales leader. By pulling Jay-Z, Steve Jobs is countering the Morris assault by going directly after talent.