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Responding to rumors and a Wall Street Journal report concerning Apple's supposed interest in acquiring rival streaming music service Tidal, Apple executive Jimmy Iovine on Wednesday said the company is not currently pursuing such plans.
"We're really running our own race," Iovine said. "We're not looking to acquire any streaming services."
Interestingly, the report says Iovine did not deny that Apple and Tidal discussed a potential acquisition. At this point, however, it seems any progress made during those supposed talks — and a public plea from Tidal stakeholder Kanye West — are irrelevant.
Following the initial WSJ report, a number of follow-ups from various publications seemingly confirmed Apple had at some point mulled a takeover bid for the Jay-Z-owned streaming service. Speculation at the time suggested Apple's interest in Tidal lay with the company's access to exclusive content, a hot commodity in the streaming industry.
Ironically, Apple Music itself might have spurred the beginning of the end for streaming exclusives when it released Frank Ocean's hotly anticipated albums in August. Ocean, who was contractually obliged to deliver an album for Universal Music Group's Def Jam label, released a visual album called "Endless" on Sept. 19, followed by the more traditional 17-track album "Blonde" just two days later.
Through some crafty dealings, Ocean was able to fulfill his Def Jam contract with "Endless," and release the monetizable "Blonde" under his own label Boys Don't Cry. The move upset UMG Chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge, who after hearing word of Ocean's gambit reportedly called on his executives to halt all future exclusives.
Apple Music currently boasts about 17 million subscribers, while today's reports puts Tidal's figures at around 4.2 million. Both pale in comparison to market leader Spotify, which recently announced subscriber numbers are now at 40 million people.