Sources also claim that the iPhone maker is considering an Android version of its iTunes music app.
Billboard claims that Apple is currently weighing up the pros and cons of launching its own subscription-based music streaming service to go with its iTunes Radio service.
Although the company has on many occasions claimed the premium music streaming business model doesn't work, largely because, it believes, consumers prefer to own content, rather than rent it in perpetuity, Billboard's sources claim Apple is attempting to protect itself from falling digital music sales.
"They are feeling out some people at labels on thoughts about transitioning its customers from iTunes proper to a streaming service," one major label source is quoted as saying. "So when you buy a song for $1.29, and you put it in your library, iTunes might send an e-mail pointing out that for a total of, say, $8 a month you can access that song plus all the music in the iTunes store. It's all in the 'what if' stage."
Increased protection is why Apple is also toying with building an official Android version of iTunes. Music is increasingly mobile yet for everyone other than iPhone, iPad and iPod owners, iTunes remains chained to the desktop as it is only available beyond the Apple ecosystem as a piece of Windows PC software.
Yet a quick glance at Apple's own App Store will show iPhone, iPad and iPod touch versions of all of Google's key music and video apps.
In September Apple launched iTunes Radio, an ad-supported free music streaming service of sorts that allows users to listen to curated radio stations based on genre or artist but doesn't allow users to create playlists or cue up specific songs. It is built into the desktop version of iTunes and integrated into the music app that is part of the iPhone's operating system.
It is currently only available in the US and Australia but is expected to roll out to other territories, including the UK and Canada, in the first half of 2014.