Music consumers could soon find themselves with one less streaming service to choose from.

The Wall Street Journal (subscriber link, via Billboard) reports that Apple Music is in "early talks" to acquire the competing Tidal service — the latest in a series of potential suitors for the streaming outlet, which was recently the target of rumored talks with Rhapsody/Napster.

Tidal enjoyed a splashy relaunch last year after initially arriving in American app stores in 2014, but despite plenty of press — and support from an array of high-profile artists lured in by Tidal co-owner Jay-Z — it's languished far behind the paid subscription numbers accrued by competitors.

According to Billboard's report, Tidal currently boasts a paid subscriber base of 3 million users — certainly nothing to scoff at, but well below the 15 million Apple Music claims, and a mere fraction of the 30 million amassed by industry leader Spotify. A series of artist exclusives, including the Prince catalog and recent releases from Kanye West and Rihanna, have helped move the needle for Tidal, but not enough to close the subscription gap.

The Apple-Tidal talks may not lead anywhere meaningful, but they reflect the continually unsettled state of the streaming music economy, which has struggled to find a way to post profits even as it's attracted millions of consumers. If a merger does come to pass, it'll give Apple an additional leg up in a battle with Spotify that's threatened to turn nasty in recent weeks.

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