Jay-Z’s Return To Spotify Could Be The Nail In Tidal’s Coffin

CBx Vibe:The Story of O.J.” Jay-Z

By CultureBanx Team

  • Jay-Z brings his music catalog back to Spotify
  • Tidal lost more than $40M in 2016

In order to celebrate his 50th birthday, rap icon Jay-Z brought his music discography back to the world’s largest streaming platform Spotify (SPOT +0.90%), leaving Tidal subscribers scratching their heads. The service he bought for $56 million in 2014 has struggled to gain any real market share against major players like Spotify, Apple Music (AAPL +1.28%) and Amazon Music (AMZN -0.81%). Is it genius marketing for the Tidal owner, or does this show he’s throwing in the streaming wars towel, as his company continues to struggle with growth?

Why This Matters: Even with Tidal’s exclusive music offerings and its $200 million investment from Sprint (S -3.35%), it still doesn’t seem to be enough to keep the ship afloat, and Jay-Z may be jumping off the boat. The streaming platforms financial struggles have been going on for years, in 2014 they lost $10.4 million, $28 million in 2015 and then nearly $44 million in 2016.

In 2014 Tidal lost $10.4 million, $28 million in 2015 and then nearly $44 million in 2016

Jay-Z has been a vocal critic of tech companies over the issue of compensating artists, so it’s a bit odd that he’s back in bed with them. Especially, when you consider Tidal markets itself as a “more equitable [business] model for artists” to make money while streaming their music. It’s because of that mindset, his music initially faded to black on Spotify in 2017 before making a comeback. This return is followed by the rapper also bringing some of his songs back to Apple Music, after ditching them in 2016.  

In the beginning it was all good at Tidal, with artists like Beyoncé, Kanye West, Madonna, and Chris Martin all retaining an ownership stake in the company. Each of the artists reportedly were given 3% equity in the platform, with Jay-Z holding the remaining stake. The company hasn’t had a major subscriber in-take since Beyonce’s 2016 Lemonade album, that the company claims was streamed 305 million times on its platform. In 2017, Kanye West left Tidal and it’s unclear if any of the other artists are still significantly using the service.

The onset of streaming has poured new life into the music industry, with revenue hitting $5.4 billion earlier this year, $4.3 billion just from streaming services. Apple Music and Spotify boasts 113 million and 60 million subscribers respectively, which is massively hard for Tidal’s 2016 self-reported 3 million subscribers to compete with.

Situational Awareness: Jay-Z seems to be taking a “if you can’t beat them, join them” approach to music streaming and social advocacy. Let’s not forget he has now partnered with the NFL on it’s social justice mission, while also curating their halftime show. This deal came together after Jay-Z had been an outspoken critic of the league’s treatment of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

CBx Vibe:The Story of O.J.” Jay-Z

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CultureBanx Team

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