Apple is in negotiations with senior executives at record labels about launching an on-demand streaming music service that would compete with Spotify and Beats music, according to a report by Billboard. Citing three unnamed sources, the publication said the "exploratory talks" are right now in very early stages.
The report also said Apple is mulling creating an iTunes Store app for Android, bringing the property to enemy turf. Apple did not return a request for comment. We'll update this post if we hear back.
The considerations come at a trying time for iTunes. According to Nielsen, downloads on the platform are down 13 percent from the week of March 9, and digital track sales are down 11 percent from last year.
While downloads have declined, streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, and even YouTube have found steady footing. According to a recent report by the Recording Industry Association of America [PDF], the streaming services made $1.4 billion in subscriptions, advertising and licensing revenues in the US, rising 39 percent from 2012. By contrast, download revenues dropped to 2.9 billion, falling 3.2 percent.
If Billboard's story is accurate, it would be aligned with other reports that suggest Apple is retooling the strategy around its music services. The company already has a streaming radio service, iTunes Radio, which may become its own standalone app when the company revamps its mobile operating system with iOS 8. Currently, the service is tethered to the iTunes app.