Apple Music may be giving Spotify a run for its money, but that does not mean there isn’t any room for improvement. In fact, quite the opposite – as the service has been criticised by some pundits. To make these improvements Apple could be looking outside of its own walls, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that an acquisition of Tidal is very much on the table.

Tidal was acquired by Jay-Z in March 2015 and since then subscriber numbers have grown steadily. While the music streaming service has not been able to compete with the likes of Spotify or Deezer, its carved out a relatively niche following of around 4.2 million subscribers.

Apple’s interest in the service is unlikely to have anything to do with subscriber numbers however, Apple Music already enjoys over 13 million paid subscribers. An extra four million would close the gap between Apple and Spotify however, with the current music streaming giant boasting over 30 million paid users.

While that would be a nice bump to figures, the real reason behind Apple’s supposed desire to acquire Tidal can be found in the company’s relationship with artists.

Thanks to Jay-Z’s ownership Tidal has already enjoyed a whole raft of exclusive releases on the platform, including music from Kanye West, Prince, Rihanna and even queen bee herself, Beyoncé. It’s likely that Apple wants that same relationship with artists and bringing Jay-Z on-board through an acquisition could be the best way to achieve that goal.

Of course Apple already enjoys a relatively good relationship with artists. Taylor Swift is already a fan, but the company needs all the ammo it can get to take on Spotify – which has continued to add subscribers despite competition from Apple.

It’s not just Apple’s desires that need to be taken into account either. Tidal is likely to be shopping its service around, as an acquisition is a logical way to exit the market that is increasingly becoming crowded. While it’s numbers continue to grow and it has the backing of industry heavyweights, Tidal will struggle for its slice of the pie against the likes of Spotify, Apple, Google and even Microsoft – companies with endless funds.

There is another factor to Apple’s potential acquisition at play too – as Tidal offers high-quality streaming that absolutely blows away what Apple currently offers. While Apple streams at 256Kbps, Tidal offers lossless audio quality streamed at 1411Kbps. That quality is only offered to those on the HiFi plan however.

Apple has not commented on the acquisition rumours, nor has Tidal.

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