Sprint Invests in Tidal
Jay Z and Tidal's "artist-owners" will continue to run the service, while Sprint CEO, Marcelo Claure will join Tidal's Board of Directors. According to Forbes, the agreement also calls for a $75 million fund dedicated to musicians' exclusive releases.
According to both Forbes and Music Business Worldwide, the partnership comes not a moment too soon. Given competition from Spotify, whose revenue exceeded that of Tidal's parent company, Aspiro, by more than 42 times in 2015, and the recent announcement at CES 2017 that both Pandora and Rhapsody/Napster will compete with Tidal in streaming hi-resolution content, there were multiple indications that Tidal was proceeding on shaky ground.
Just last week, Norwegian newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv suggested that Tidal has been inflating its subscriber figures. Tidal had claimed 3 million in over 52 countries, while analysis suggested that the figure was more likely close to 1 million.
None of the gloomy stuff is mentioned in the official press release. After all, can you imagine Jay Z saying that Sprint saved his ass? Instead, he proclaims, "Sprint shares our view of revolutionizing the creative industry to allow artists to connect directly with their fans and reach their fullest, shared potential. Marcelo understood our goal right away and together we are excited to bring Sprint's 45 million customers an unmatched entertainment experience."
Claure, in turn, declares, "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. 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."
With exclusive offers and promotions from Sprint and Tidal promised "soon," things are looking up for both Tidal, Sprint, and quality-conscious audiophiles. Especially promising is that the companies' joint press release takes care to state: "The Sprint-Tidal partnership comes on the heels of Tidal's recent announcement revealing the availability of "Master" quality [Note: MQA-encoded] recordings. A wide variety of content from labels and artists, including Warner Music Group's world-renowned music catalogue, is now available in Master audio across all of Tidal's available markets worldwide."
Assuming the partnership is a success, Sprint could very well become the medium by which a huge number of subscribers who listen to content on mobile phones become aware of hi-resolution audio and MQA. The development could even put pressure on manufacturers to improve sound quality in mobile devices. Only time will tell. Although publicists from both companies did not respond to an email request for interviews and additional information, Stereophile will attempt to supply additional information on the partnership as it becomes available.