It's kind of the impression I got during the keynote the other day. Apple now has iTunes, Apple Music, and Beats 1 (which I could see growing into an XM competitor). Their apps are on a billion devices w/ 800 million credit cards on file. They spent a lot of time during the keynote promoting the ways new artists can use Connect and how Beats was going to focus on what's good, not just what's popular. Iovine has a strong industry background so I could see him pushing for this. They've also been hobnobbing with a lot of musical "talent" lately (though that seems to be a trend w/ Apple over the last year - celebrities in general). Not sure of the legal ramifications of this but if Apple were to sign artists directly they could presumably split the record company profits between Apple and the artist, basically removing the middle man, and leaving more money for both. One could argue artists no longer need mainstream radio play or the distribution of physical media. As far as I know that's a big chunk of what record companies provide. Signing with Apple (and all they have to offer) could also give Apple some form of exclusivity - an advantage over other services. It's possible Apple will just use this leverage to get more money out of existing record companies but I wouldn't be surprised to see them start signing artists at some point, especially if they can get them early and promote them on their services. May be 5-10 years off but I definitely think it could happen. It would be interesting for sure.