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JayZ! What’s Up With Tidal?

Tidal, JayZ’s music streaming service, is still going through some changes. Some say its going out of business. Others say it’s on solid ground and growing. It’s all about who you believe. But any way you look at it, things are happening.

The most recent announcement from Tidal is that it is launching apps for Apple and Android streaming television. Subscribers to Tidal will now be able to stream not only  Tidal’s entire library of music but also video content like concerts, livestreams, and music videos directly on their TVs. 

The new apps are just the latest moves by Tidal.  Tidal recently added support for Apple’s CarPlay along with integration with Sonos speakers. The move is seen as a way for Tidal to reach listeners on AppleTV which doesn’t have a Spotify app.

The Tidal TV app is currently available on iTunes and Google Play.

But there is more to this story. Can Tidal even survive? Music streaming is a brutal business. JayZ knew this when he got in the game. His edge was to pay artists more for their work than other music streaming services and include them as part owners. Good idea. But is it working?

News reports are surfacing that Tidal is facing both money and subscriber growth issues. According to Norway’s Dagens Næringsliv (DN) Tidal is losing money to the tune of  $44 million dollars before taxes in 2016. The report also said that Tidal is down to just six months of operating capital. Most recently Tidal picked up a nice chunk of change from Sprint who purchased a 33 percent stake for $200 million.  The deal included a reported $75 million fund for exclusive content. Was that enough to keep Tidal afloat? According to JayZ’s business partner Juan Perez the money gave Tidal “sufficient working capital for the next 12-18 months.” 

A spokesperson for Tidal told Endgadget, “We have experienced negative stories about Tidal since its inception and we have done nothing but grow the business each year.” The company claims it will achieve profitability in middle of this year.

But Jay-Z’s report of Tidal’s subscribers is in dispute. In September 2015, Jay-Z tweeted that Tidal had over 1 million subscribers. But DN reported internal records of payments to record labels showed that number to be closer to 350,000. Six months later JayZ claimed it had reached the 3 million subscribers. Some say the number was actually 850,000. Internally Tidal claims about 1.2 million subscribers but has kept quiet about the numbers every since. 

But whatever the numbers are they lag way behind the really big boys of music streaming like  Spotify which, as of July of last year, claimed more than 60 million subscribers and Apple Music with 30 million subscribers.

One final note, JayZ’s boy, Kanye West, might want to pay attention since he considering a move into music streaming. There are lessons to be learned here.

Breaking It Down.

Tidal is in trouble. JayZ has the right idea to pay artists more and offering them ownership in Tidal. But JayZ has to do two things. First he needs to get real and come clean about the subscriber situation and the money situation. Get that out there. Then he needs to take a step back and focus on building audience. He has the content and he and his wife can reach millions of people. Focus on bringing the upcoming generation to his Tidal service. Bring new artist up. I know he has the connections with the top artists in the industry. But can he find the next big star? The new names. JayZ needs to take hip-hop and pop music forward a step or two. Forget competing with Apple or Spotify. Forget whats happening now. Work on what going to happen next. Someone found JayZ on a street corner in New York. He needs to go back to that same corner and see who took his place. Focus on a smaller segment of the market. Become a more exclusive service for the new generations. Bring in new names and subscribers will come running. Tidal is small. Stay that way until you get big.