Apple Inc is exploring the purchase of rival music streaming service Tidal, which is run by rap star Jay-Z, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
The paper said Apple is interested in using the company to beef-up its own year-old steaming service Apple Music.
Talks between the companies are ongoing and might not result in a tie-up, the Journal said, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter.
Executives at Tidal have not spoken with Apple about being acquired, the paper reported, quoting a Tidal spokesperson.
Apple declined to comment when contacted by reporters.
Tidal soared in popularity early this year after Beyonce released her latest album Lemonade exclusively on the service, although it was also broadcast in a film version on HBO and quickly made available on iTunes.
Tidal, which had a mixed reception after its relaunch last year, has heavily promoted exclusives, such as albums by Rihanna and Kanye West.
It trumped Apple earlier this year in securing the rights to be the first to stream West’s latest album The Life of Pablo.
The company has been trying to seize some of the fast-growing streaming market from Spotify AB, which focuses on wide and easy access rather than exclusives.
Tidal subscriptions cost US$10 or US$20 monthly, depending on whether a user wants high-fidelity sound.
Tidal has endured a troubled year since Jay Z bought its parent company for US$56 million in March last year.
In a letter sent three months ago, the entrepreneur accused Tidal’s Norwegian seller, Schibsted ASA, of overstating subscriber numbers.
Tidal said in March it had more than 3 million paying subscribers, compared with Apple’s 15 million and Spotify’s 30 million.
Tidal has replaced its top management several times since the acquisition, and an attempt to sell the service to Samsung Electronics Co collapsed, Variety reported in March.
Additional reporting by Bloomberg
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