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Apple says it's not buying Tidal, but doesn't deny talks

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It’s been rumored for months that Apple was thinking about buying Tidal, the music streaming service started by Jay Z, but the iPhone maker now says a deal certainly isn’t on the cards. Speaking to BuzzFeed News, Apple Music head Jimmy Iovine didn’t deny that the two companies had held discussions, but said that no acquisition was forthcoming. "We’re really running our own race," Iovine told the publication. "We’re not looking to acquire any streaming services."

The first rumor of a deal was reported by The Wall Street Journal in June, with Apple said to be particularly interested in Tidal’s close relationship with high-profile artists. The streaming service has been home to exclusives from a number of musicians including Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Lil Wayne, and these aren’t likely to stop coming. Apple too is playing the exclusives game in order to attract new subscribers, and at the launch of the new iPhone last week, CEO Tim Cook didn’t just boast about paid subscribers to Apple Music (up to 17 million compared to Spotify’s 40 million) but also about the platform's 70-plus exclusives.

But for Tidal, the need to brace its finances — either through an acquisition or some other means — is getting pressing. The streaming service has just 4.2 million paid subscribers, and its parent company, Aspiro AB, more than doubled its losses last year while revenues rose only 30 percent. Over the same time period Spotify doubled its revenues, although the streaming service still recorded a loss. With or without an acquisition, making it in the music streaming business isn't going to get easier for Tidal any time soon.