Yes, it’s the news that Jay-Z’s music streaming service has sold 33% of its assets to telecoms provider Sprint, so put that image of Danny Baker knocking on stranger’s houses and asking them to stare at his undies right out of your mind!
The deal superficially suits both parties – Sprint has 45 million customers that Tidal can now offer exclusive deals to, and Tidal can….Tidal can…erm…Tidal has the streaming service software licked, if not the signed up, satisfied customers!
Seriously, Tidal has just 1m paying customers, as compared to Apple Music (40m subs), and Spotify, (20m).
But still, these figures suggest there is a vast untapped audience out there given how many of earth’s citizens listen to music, visit YouTube and are generally well disposed towards paying for products an services on a subscription basis.
The bad news for Tidal , whose investors include Mrs Z, Beyonce, J.Cole, Nicki Minaj and Kanye West, is that now giants like Amazon are entering the game, with 100’s of millions of people already using their services, who are prepared to take more such services for the sake of convenience.
Tidal does its best work promoting US Urban music, which does not have the same reach overseas as other kinds of music, apparently, and as such ought to focus on growing its US user base, say analysts.
Tidal cost Jay-Z $56 million, and after Sprint has injected its $200m, will achieve a value of approximately $600m. And crucially, the thinking goes, artists will be more amenable to recording for the platform, as there’s a much bigger chance of somebody actually listening to it now the potential subscriber base just increased so dramatically.
Tidal is loss making and now, its detractors say, it is selling its soul too, becoming a place where artists are transformed into glorified mobile phone salespeople. HHH can’t remember a time when the service got any good press, but it seems that Jay Z has finally made a pretty solid move.
A full acquisition by Sprint would help him dispose of a tricky asset that has caused nothing but headaches, at a profit, all whilst helping artists take the power back from their multi-national overlords.
Since music streaming is not going anywhere for at least a couple of decades, however, expect this story to run and run, the fickle finger of fortune oscillating between one side and the other like an erratic, out of control pendulum.