A few weeks ago, rumors began circulating that Apple wanted to purchase Tidal, the troubled music streaming service purchased by Jay Z. The company has had trouble since it began, and padded its numbers when Jay Z showed interest, in order to get a higher purchase price. Despite constant work, the service has not had any luck in turning around.
Those rumors made little sense to our team, and seemed to make little sense to the rest of the industry. Why would Apple be interested in purchasing another struggling streaming service when they already have one? Beats Music was a disaster before the minor rebrand that left us with Apple Music. That service has had more success under the new name, but that would have only worked once.
The only thing that Tidal has going for it is a small number of exclusives, but that is a trend that will not last long. Tidal may pay artists more, but they can only do that for as long as they have revenue. A former colleague of mine once said in regards to MetroPCS, though it applies here as well,
You can sell dollar bills for 90 cents and you will do well, but eventually you will run out of dollar bills.
That is the scenario that Tidal is in with artists, and one that the rumor would have transferred to Apple. Apple has played the loss-leader game before, but unlike Wal-Mart, Apple does not know how to make that work. They are far more comfortable selling dollar bills for $5 each and burying the extra money in a hole in the middle of nowhere.
This week, Apple confirmed what everyone already knew - they had no interest in Tidal. Jimmy Iovine said in an interview with BuzzFeed,
We're really running our own race. not looking to acquire any streaming services.
There's no arguing what the firmness of that statement. There is also no arguing that position - Apple does not need to acquire anyone to become competitive. They merely need to beat Google at their own game, by bundling the service with their devices.