Rocky start for Jay Z's Tidal streaming service

AFP/The Local
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Rocky start for Jay Z's Tidal streaming service
US rap mogul Jay Z and singer Beyonce. Photo: Mason Poole/Invision for Parkwood Entertainment/AP Images

Despite its grand unveiling with the backing of some of music's top stars, US rapper Jay Z's streaming music service Tidal's rough start has so far not given its main Swedish rivals at Spotify cause to quiver in their boots.


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After a brief spike in interest following its relaunch on March 30th, Tidal was on Tuesday the 872nd most downloaded iPhone app in the United States, and the 51st among music apps.

It has fared little better in most other countries. Sweden, Tidal's base, was the only country where it entered the top five list for downloaded apps, according to tracking service App Annie.

The internet radio provider Pandora was the most downloaded music app in the United States, with Spotify not far behind.

Tidal last week replaced its CEO and announced layoffs, although it said it was also hiring for new positions.

Jay Z earlier this year bought Tidal from Swedish-listed parent company Aspiro for $56 million amid a rapid growth in streaming, which allows unlimited on-demand music.

Tidal has marketed itself to high-end audiophiles, using larger file sizes than Spotify and charging $19.99 – twice as much as its rival – for the full service.

The firm also billed itself as geared towards artists amid charges that Spotify has insufficiently compensated musicians.

At the relaunch of Tidal in New York, Jay Z brought out stars said to be partners in the service, including Madonna, Kanye West, Daft Punk and Beyonce – Jay Z's wife, who later released a love ballad for him exclusively on Tidal.

But several artists have publicly criticized the roll-out, saying that Jay Z contradicted his own message of supporting artists by making it appear as if some of the world's biggest musicians wanted more money.

“When they say it's artist-owned, it's owned by those rich, wealthy artists,” Marcus Mumford, the frontman of Mumford & Sons, charged in a recent interview with The Daily Beast website, which said that the band members responded to the mention of Tidal with “a series of loud fart sounds”.

Money generated from streaming around the world shot up by 39 percent last year, helping digital music match physical sales for the first time, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.


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