Tidal, the music streaming service that has Jay Z as its main owner, has entered into a partnership designed to keep it afloat. Today, Sprint announced it has acquired a 33 percent stake in Tidal, and will offer its wireless subscribers access to new and exclusive content from the service.
As part of this deal, Sprint has also revealed plans to launch a dedicated marketing fund for music artists. The company’s press release says this fund will give those artists “the flexibility to create and share their work with and for their fans.” Details of how this fund will work were not announced. In addition, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure will join the board of directors at Tidal. Jay Z and the number of music artists that own a stake in Tidal will continue to run the service.
Today’s announcement left out two crucial bits of information; how much Sprint paid for its stake in Tidal and how many subscribers the service had before this deal was made. Previously, Tidal has claimed it has signed up 3 million users for its service, but those numbers have been disputed by analysts and music industry executives. Sprint’s acquisition does not give its users an automatic subscription to Tidal, and details about its exclusives for those users have yet to be revealed.
Jay Z’s company Project Panther Bidco bought Tidal and another streaming service, WiMP, for $56 million in January 2015 as part of a deal to acquire the Swedish tech company Aspiro. Later that year, Jay Z and a number of other major music artists announced they were co-owners in Tidal, and tried to make the case that the service would be better for musicians compared to competitors like Spotify.
Even though Tidal has managed to offer a number of exclusive albums and songs from top artists like Rihanna, Beyoncé and Kanye West since it relaunched, it has struggled to compete with Spotify, Apple Music and others. It remains to be seen whether this new deal with Sprint will boost its overall numbers.