On Monday, Sprint announced they will acquire 33% of Jay Z’s music streaming company, TIDAL. Sprint will make TIDAL available to Sprint’s 45 million customers. TIDAL will provide exclusive content to Sprint customers. The telecommunications company explains the new terms and conditions will help Sprint gain new business and “reward current customers”.
In a statement, Sprint reported their company purchased 33% of TIDAL. JAY Z and artists on TIDAL’s platform will continue to provide music content for their subscribers.
Sprint argues the partnership with TIDAL will help both companies to expand and gain new business.
Jay Z also commented on the deal, stating, “Sprint shares our view of revolutionizing the creative industry to allow artists to connect directly with their fans and reach their fullest, shared potential.”
“Jay saw not only a business need, but a cultural one, and put his heart and grit into building TIDAL into a world-class music streaming platform that is unrivaled in quality and content,” said Sprint’s CEO Marcelo Claure. “The passion and dedication that these artist-owners bring to fans will enable Sprint to offer new and existing customers access to exclusive content and entertainment experiences in a way no other service can.”
What is Tidal?
Tidal is a music subscription service similar to Spotify and Apple Music. The company features over 25 million songs and over 85,000 music videos. Tidal also pays the highest percentage of royalties to music artists.
Currently, there are two different subscriptions: Tidal Premium and Tidal HiFi. The difference between the subscription packages is a matter of streaming quality. For example, Tidal Premium features sound and quality is not exactly perfect. However, Tidal HiFi is the company’s high quality sound package featuring lossless CD quality.
Tidal was first launched three years ago by a Swedish company called Aspiro. The company was able to obtain distribution agreements with three of the major labels including several independent recording companies. JAY Z’s company, Project Panther Ltd., for $56.2 million in 2015.
In an interview with Billboard magazine, JAY Z explained he was interested in partnering with other groups to purchase TIDAL. However, he decided to take this venture alone. “We talked to every single service and we explored all the options,” Jay Z said, “But at the end of the day, we figured if we’re going to shape this thing the way we see it, then we need to have independence. And that became a better proposition for us, not an easier one, mind you,” he added.
Under the control of JAY Z, the company launched a media campaign to market and reintroduce the TIDAL streaming platform. Many recording artists changed their social media profiles to color blue and the hashtag #TIDALforALL quickly went viral. On March 30, 2015, several of the biggest pop recording artists, including JAY Z, Beyoncé, Madonna, Daft Punk, and many others, held a press conference announcing the new music platform.
But what makes JAY Z’s TIDAL different?
In a 2015 interview with the New York Times, JAY Z said the biggest difference between TIDAL and its competitors was the way the company treats their recording artists. “This is a platform that’s owned by artists,” JAY Z said. “We are treating these people that really care about the music with the utmost respect.”
TIDAL also offers exclusive content to their subscribers. TIDAL subscribers were able to see exclusive Beyoncé and Madonna music videos. Also, Rihanna fans were able to obtain exclusive access to new song and music video, “American Oxygen,” via the TIDAL service.
Early TIDAL problems
Initially, JAY Z’s company needed to overcome challenges. By April 2015, reports surfaced the company fired the original Aspiro staff, including CEO Andy Chen. TIDAL then replaced Chen with Peter Tonstad. Less than a year later, TIDAL replaced Tonstad and hired Jeff Toig, as the new CEO of the company.
TIDAL faced major backlash and criticism. Recording artists, critics, and fans, criticized TIDAL for the inflated monthly subscription fee. Many artists argued the monthly fee will only promote piracy. For example, recording artist Lily Allen took to Twitter to voice her frustration with TIDAL. “I love Jay-Z so much, but Tidal is (so) expensive compared to other perfectly good streaming services, he’s taken the biggest artists… Made them exclusive to Tidal (am I right in thinking this?), people are going to swarm back to pirate sites in droves,” she said.
Lily Allen When Kanye West released his new album The Life of Pablo as a TIDAL streaming exclusive album. Kanye West’s album was downloaded illegally over 500,000 times, according to Torrent Freak. Subsequently, Kanye West released the album to other major streaming companies.