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Apple reportedly buying Beats Electronics for $3.2 billion

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Apple Inc. is close to striking a deal with Dr. Dre.

In what would be the largest-ever purchase by the iPhone maker, Apple is in advanced talks to acquire headphone maker and music-streaming service Beats Electronics LLC for $3.2 billion, people with knowledge of the matter said.

A deal for the Santa Monica, Calif., company, which was founded by music-industry executive Jimmy Iovine and hip-hop artist Dr. Dre, would bolster Apple’s online music capabilities by giving it ownership of the Beats Music service that started earlier this year. For $10 a month, subscribers get unlimited access to all of the songs in the service’s catalog through a smartphone, tablet or Web browser.

Although representatives from Apple and Beats declined to comment, a video posted to YouTube shows Dr. Dre alluding to the deal, saying “the first billionaire in hip-hop, right here.”

Music has long been one of the cornerstones of Apple’s business, with its iTunes store and the iPod music player that reignited the company’s growth more than a decade ago. Yet digital-download sales fell for the first time ever last year as people turn to streaming services such as Spotify Ltd., Google Inc.’s YouTube and Pandora Media Inc. to listen to music, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

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