Tidal CEO steps down after just three months

23 Jun 2015

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Tidal owner Jay Z. Image via Shutterstock

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Negativity has stalked Tidal relentlessly since the March launch of the Jay Z-owned music streaming service, which saw an absolute galaxy of stars take to a New York stage and proclaim the app to be “the future of music”.

Its problems show no signs of relenting either, with the news that company CEO Peter Tonstad has stepped down after just three months in the job.

“We are thankful to Peter for stepping in as interim CEO,” the company said in a statement, adding that “current executives in New York and Oslo will continue to lead our rapidly developing innovation and content initiatives until our new CEO is in place”. Tonstad joined the company in April to replace the previous chief executive Andy Chen.

Jay-Z – real name Sean Carter – bought Tidal when he acquired the Norway-based media technology corporation Aspiro earlier this year for US$56m. Launching the service alongside the likes of Kanye West, Jack White, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Coldplay, Arcade Fire, Alicia Keys, Rihanna, Daft Punk, Calvin Harris, Usher, Deadmau5, Beyoncé and others. The service’s intent, Jay said, was to give artists a fairer share of revenue than other streaming options, such as Spotify Deezer and Google Play.

But the project has been criticised from the moment it was announced, with artists like Mumford & Sons, Steve Albini, Lily Allen and Ben Gibbard suggesting that its model will only favour established, mainstream acts and that the whole thing is little more than a vanity project for those involved. Jay himself has commented on the widespread condemnation via Twitter, with the infrequent social media user posting a lengthy defence in April that claimed that “big companies” are “spending millions on a smear campaign” against Tidal.

The service currently has 770,000 subscribers, compared with industry leader Spotify’s 20m.

Jay Z image via Shutterstock

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Dean is a freelance journalist and editor covering media.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com