But will regulators approve the acquisition?
Apple is now considering a purchase of Tidal, according to details just published by the Wall Street Journal. Citing ‘people familiar with the matter,’ the Journal pointed to ‘exploratory talks’ but offered nothing on deal terms.
A sale would give Tidal owner Jay Z a considerable windfall, and a nice digital music ‘flip’. Roughly one year ago, Jay Z purchased then-WiMP for $56 million from Aspiro, before re-branding the app and bringing in a cadre of high-profile artist partners. That was closely followed by a string of massive exclusives, with Kanye West among the illustrious participants.
Laughably, the news follows an April Fools’ joke about a Tidal acquisition by Google, with a $1.4 billion price tag attached. That drew the ire of Tidal attorneys, perhaps because of complications with the real suitor. As for the price tag, that’s anyone’s guess, though Apple recently blew north of $3 billion on its Beats acquisition.
The report comes at a strange time for Apple, which is now under federal investigation for predatory practices. A focal point of that investigation involves Apple Music, and specifically, cumbersome fees that Apple charges rivals like Spotify to exist on its iOS-based iPhone ecosystem. That could greatly complicate any efforts to purchase Tidal, especially given the direct impact the acquisition would have on rivals like Spotify. In fact, there’s a very solid chance the buyout would be defeated.
Meanwhile, Tidal is flexing some impressive subscription numbers. Most recently, Tidal reported 4.2 million paying subscribers, and earlier, claimed 1.5 million takers for its higher-fidelity, $20-a-month plan. Those are impressive numbers, though the bigger bang could come from artist exclusives, and area that Apple Music is investing heavily.
Oh, and we had to ask: where’s the competitive bid from Spotify?
More as it develops.