Apple is back at the negotiating table with music industry executives in an attempt to create a streaming custom radio service similar to Pandora and Spotify, the Wall Street Journal reports.

These apps allow users to set their musical preferences, and are then fed a stream of similar music they’re likely to enjoy — without the need to drop money on every track they’d like to try.

With last year’s launch of iTunes Match providing greater access to on-demand content for subscribers, this move would see Apple reinforce its already-ironclad grip on music retailing.

But given that grip, it could also spell a dark future for services like Pandora and Spotify. The latter in particular has seen stellar growth in recent times, with its 2011 launch in the US and continued expansion through 2012, including an Australian launch.

The Wall Street Journal believes that the radio service would be ad-supported, but it is possible an iTunes Match subscription could be expanded to remove those ads.

It will be interesting to see how Apple pays musicians for each song streamed, but it isn’t likely to be much different from the already paid via iTunes Match — a mind-blowingly low $0.003.

Image Credit: Grace