So, according to the Wall Street Journal, Apple has held preliminary talks with a view to buying Jay Z’s Tidal streaming service.
Tidal have apparently denied it, while Apple have declined to comment – although to be fair, they’d probably decline to comment if you asked them to confirm the sky was blue.
We’ll find out the truth soon enough no doubt, but if Apple actually did buy one of its competitors, what would it mean for the crowded streaming market, aside from Jay Z becoming even more phenomenally rich?
Well, Apple recently announced it had passed 15 million global subscribers, while earlier in the year Tidal said it now had three million. Snapping us those customers won’t get Apple past Spotify’s all-conquering 30 million, although it’s the easiest way to acquire that many users in one fell swoop, at a time when every subscription is being fought over tooth-and-nail.
But probably more key is Tidal’s hi-res HiFi service. With over half of its subscribers choosing the premium option – which costs double the standard £9.99-per-month subscription – it generates more cash-per-user (always a key iTunes metric) than a standard Apple Music sub and, with Apple’s marketing muscle, could see them well-placed to take hi-res audio mainstream.
But key to the purchase would surely be keeping Tidal’s army of artist-owners on board. As well as Jay-Z, Tidal has profited – or, at the very least, attracted free trialists – from exclusives from Rihanna and Beyoncé. Apple has built its Spotify onslaught on exclusive deals as well and you can see why combining exclusive streaming rights for everyone from Taylor Swift to Kanye West might prove to be a magic bullet to streaming supremacy.
Only one problem: you might not be able to hear any of their music over the gnashing of teeth coming from Spotify HQ. Over to you, Daniel Ek...