Music Industry

Apple Looking to Buy Tidal

There are too many streaming music services. None of them is making money, either. Time to cull the herd.

Apple realizes that paid downloads through iTunes are dropping as consumers increasingly choose access to music rather than possession. With Spotify in their bombsight, Apple is looking to grow Apple Music–and fast.

Word is that the company is in talks with Jay Z’s (apparently) embattled Tidal, one of the new streamers that don’t offer a free tier. But doesn’t that company have an anemic subscriber base? Yes, but that’s not the endgame here. From Music Business Worldwide:

The news comes just three months after Samsung publicly stated that it had no plans to acquire TIDAL – despite rumours swirling that it had kicked the tyres of the company.

In many ways, Apple is a better fit for TIDAL. Both companies have built an audience of paying subscribers; both have relied heavily on streaming exclusives – and both have explicitly focused on the worlds of R&B and hip-hop in order to do so.

In Apple’s case, it has ‘won’ windowed new releases from the likes of Drake and Snoop Dogg, while TIDAL has recently held down long-term streaming exclusives from Kanye West and Beyonce.

Apple attempted to attract Kanye West to Apple Music for the release of the star’s latest album, The Life Of Pablo, in February, but the artist resolutely stuck with TIDAL.

“He wanted to work with his friend – it’s that simple,” Jimmy Iovine told Rolling Stone this month.

Great. So Apple wants to buy Tidal because of Kanye. That won’t do anything to his ego, right? That’s a bit of an exaggeration–but not much. The thing that Tidal can deliver is exclusives from big acts. Here’s more from Business Insider:

But there’s one big reason why Tidal could be an attractive prospect for Apple: The sheer amount of artists that are on board with the platform and giving it exclusives.

That list includes not only Kanye, but Beyonce, Madonna, Jack White and a ton of others. Interesting.

Here’s more analysis from Music Industry Blog:

Streaming exclusives

The jockeying for exclusives will only heat up. The company that can attract the most artists willing to offer even limited-time exclusives will see a big market advantage.

Thanks to Bobby and others for the links.



Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38134 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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