Tidal, the much-maligned music streaming service, is in hot water once again. Just one-year since its inception, rapper and music mogul Jay Z has accused previous owners, Norwegian media company Schibsted ASA, of inflating the amount of subscribers it had when Jay Z and other investors purchased it.
Bought for the price of a cool $56 million, it seems like the mogul is looking to recoup some of his losses as Tidal is still less popular than Spotify and Apple Music.
“It became clear after taking control of Tidal and conducting our own audit that the total number of subscribers was actually well below the 540,000 reported to us by the prior owners,” Tidal told Bloomberg in a press release. “As a result, we have now served legal notice to parties involved in the sale.”
Anders Rikter, a spokesman for Schibsted, responded with, “We disagree with the accusations in the letter and any potential claims. We would like to point out that the company was listed on the stock exchange with everything that entails regarding transparent financial reporting.”
Schibsted claims that Jay Z’s holding company S. Carter Enterprises LLC had already inspected the company before deciding on its acquisition, which happened in January 2015.
These accusations come in the wake of a very few shaky first months for the celebrity venture. The company has had three different CEOs thus far, as well as accidentally leaking Rihanna’s new album ANTi, AND releasing some pretty impressive statistics about the performance of Kanye West’s new album The Life Of Pablo, which seems a little dubious in our opinion. It’s even been rumoured that Jay-Z has been shopping to the maligned streaming service around to potential buyers.
Despite boasting a hi-fidelity catalogue of music, including some exclusive content, Tidal still can’t seem to keep up with the big guns of the streaming industry. It’s ‘owners’ (introduced at a highly publicised launch party) include Alicia Keys, Win Butler & Régine Chassagne, Beyoncé, Calvin Harris, Chris Martin, Daft Punk, Jack White, Jason Aldean, J. Cole, Kanye West, Deadmau5, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna and Usher.
The hope that its celebrity endorsement, exclusive content and hi-fi music would create an attractive niche in a frankly saturated music streaming environment has fallen flat. The $19.99-a-month fee seems a little hard to justify when Spotify is offering an even larger library of music for just $11.99-a-month. As of this week, Tidal has surpassed the three-million-member mark, however, that also pales in comparison to Spotify’s 30-million subscribers and Apple’s 11-million mark.
Additionally, Tidal was hit with a $5 million lawsuit by Yesh Music Publishing and John Emanuel of American Dollar, alleging that Tidal had infringed on their copyright as well as owing them unpaid royalties. However, Tidal rebuked the claims, saying they had indeed paid in full all of the applicable royalties to Yesh Music.
Despite the recent spat of strife for the company, there is a bit of good news for first-time subscribers of the streaming service. Tidal has now decided to extend the free trial period thanks to none other than Yeezy himself, which makes sense considering that the rapper’s exclusive release of TLOP onto the platform has ended up doubling Tidal’s fan base.
Furthermore as of today, TLOP will be available across all streaming platforms, including Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play and Rhapsody. It will be interesting to not only see the stats of TLOP now that it’s available world wide, but also where Tidal will go from here. Things do not look good.