Jay Z’s Tidal loses top exec

In­terim CEO Peter Ton­stad leaves the strug­gling mu­sic stream­ing com­pany.

Los Angeles Times - - COMPANY TOWN - By Ryan Faugh­n­der ryan. faugh­n­der @ latimes. com

The in­terim head of Jay Z’s stream­ing ser­vice Tidal has stepped down, leav­ing the strug­gling mu­sic stream­ing com­pany with­out a chief ex­ec­u­tive just a week be­fore the launch of Ap­ple Mu­sic.

The de­par­ture of CEO Peter Ton­stad marks the sec­ond ma­jor change in the com­pany’s top seat since it re­launched in March. Ton­stad stepped in as in­terim chief af­ter Andy Chen left the job in April amid a hand­ful of lay­offs.

Tidal did not say who would take Ton­stad’s place on a per­ma­nent ba­sis. Cur­rent ex­ec­u­tives in New York and Oslo will run the com­pany un­til a re­place­ment is found.

“We are thank­ful to Peter for step­ping in as in­terim CEO and wish him the best for the fu­ture,” a Tidal spokesper­son said in a state­ment. “Tidal will be tran­si­tion­ing to a per­ma­nent CEO as part of our strate­gic plan to cre­ate a lead­ing plat­form.”

Jay Z, a rap­per and mogul worth an es­ti­mated $ 550 mil­lion, bought the stream­ing ser­vice this year for $ 56 mil­lion with as­pi­ra­tions of cre­at­ing a com­peti­tor to Spo­tify, Rdio and Rhap­sody that would have the best in­ter­ests of artists at heart.

But the com­pany fum­bled early with a poorly re­ceived news con­fer­ence fea­tur­ing fa­mous co- own­ers such as Madonna, Jack White and Kanye West. Tidal was crit­i­cized for ap­pear­ing to as­sem­ble the in­dus­try’s top earn­ers — re­ferred to by some as the “Avengers” of mu­sic — to get more money from the grow­ing stream­ing mar­ket.

Mak­ing mat­ters worse, the Tidal app fell out of the top 750 apps down­loaded on iTunes shortly af­ter the news con­fer­ence. It is now ranked No. 1,340, ac­cord­ing to data pro­vided by App An­nie.

Tidal has about 900,000 users, up from 500,000 be­fore the re­launch. The com­pany charges $ 9.99 a month for ac­cess to its li­brary of 30 mil­lion songs, but un­like Spo­tify, it does not of­fer a free, adsup­ported ver­sion.

Spo­tify, with head­quar­ters in Stock­holm, has 20 mil­lion pay­ing sub­scribers and 55 mil­lion users who lis­ten for free with com­mer­cials. Tidal is based in Oslo, with ex­ec­u­tives also in Los An­ge­les and New York.

On Tues­day, Ap­ple will launch its own well- pub­li­cized ser­vice in 100 coun­tries. Ap­ple Mu­sic, an­nounced this month, will fea­ture a Spo­tify- like on- de­mand ser­vice for $ 9.99 a month, plus a free ra­dio sta­tion dubbed Beats 1 and a so­cial media com­po­nent for artists and fans.

Ap­ple has faced its own public back­lash from in­de­pen­dent artists and la­bels over its plans to not pay roy­al­ties dur­ing con­sumers’ three- month trial pe­riod. The Cu­per­tino, Calif., tech gi­ant re­versed the pay­ments pol­icy af­ter su­per­star Tay­lor Swift threat­ened to with­hold her al­bum “1989” from the ser­vice.

Theo Wargo Getty I mages f or Live Na­tion

RAP­PER and mogul Jay Z, shown in May, bought the mu­sic stream­ing com­pany Tidal for $ 56 mil­lion.

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