Apple Inc. is in exploratory talks to acquire Tidal, a streaming-music service run by rap mogul Jay Z, according to people familiar with the matter.
The talks are ongoing and may not result in a deal, these people said. Apple is exploring the idea of bringing on Tidal to bolster its Apple Music service because of Tidal’s strong ties to popular artists such as Kanye West and Madonna.
Terms of the potential deal aren’t known.
Jay Z bought the service in March 2015 for $56 million from Swedish company Aspiro. He launched the service under the brand Tidal a month later. He has given 19 famous artists and bands small stakes in Tidal and promised each millions of dollars worth of marketing, according to people familiar with the matter.
A Tidal spokesman said Tidal executives had not held talks with Apple.
Tidal charges $20 a month for a high-fidelity version of its 40-million-song catalog or $10 a month for standard-quality sound. Tidal said it has 4.2 million paying subscribers.
But the company has experienced management turmoil, churning through three chief executives, including one hired by previous management and one interim, in less than a year. Jeff Toig, former chief business officer of SoundCloud, a Berlin-based audio-sharing service, has been CEO since January.
Tidal has held exploratory talks beginning last year with other potential partners, such as the streaming service Rhapsody, according to a person familiar with the matter. Rhapsody recently changed its name to Napster.
The news of the talks comes about a year after Apple launched its own streaming music service, Apple Music. Apple said June 13 that it had 15 million paying subscribers to the $9.99-per-month service for individuals. The same day, Apple said it would redesign Apple Music in the fall as part of an update to its iPhone software, to address complaints that the software was confusing and hard to navigate.
Apple has been working to secure close relationships with recording artists. It has provided marketing assistance to artists, while also helping to pay for music videos for high-profile artists in exchange for a certain period of exclusivity on Apple Music. [WallStreetJournal]