Sprint has acquired a 33% share in the musician-owned streaming platform Tidal, the companies announced Monday.
Sources told Music Business Worldwide that the deal was worth about $200 million, valuing the Jay Z-controlled company at about $600 million.
As part of the partnership, Sprint will make Tidal available to all of its 45 million customers, including pre-paid users, giving them full advantage of the many exclusives on the streaming site, which is one of the biggest selling points the platform has. In just over a year, Tidal has launched new albums from the likes of Rihanna, Kanye West and Beyoncé, as well as new songs, remixes, playlists, concerts and music videos from those artists and many others. The ability to watch or listen to these exclusives are limited to paying subscribers, as Tidal doesn’t have a free tier.
Sprint’s CEO will join Tidal’s board of directors, but Tidal says it will still be run by the many famous musicians who have helped bring so much attention to the company in the year-plus since it launched.
In a statement announcing the deal, Jay Z said, “Sprint shares our view of revolutionizing the creative industry to allow artists to connect directly with their fans and reach their fullest, shared potential,” putting a positive spin on what could be interpreted as a need for cash.
Tidal was launched in 2014 by a Norwegian company named Aspiro; less than a year later, Jay Z purchased it and relaunched the service in America (and beyond) as an artist-first enterprise. The company is co-owned by a slew of superstars, including Beyoncé, Kanye West, Calvin Harris, Madonna, Usher, Rihanna, Chris Martin, Alicia Keys and many others. Since then, the platform has found it difficult to keep up in the highly competitive streaming music field, losing out to larger, more popular on-demand options like Spotify and Apple Music.
Tidal’s business was called into question last week by the Norwegian newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv, which claimed that the company had been lying to the public about its subscriber numbers. While Tidal stated in early 2016 that it had reached the 3 million-user mark, the report claims the real number is closer to 1.2 million.