Another Bump in the Road for Tidal: No One Cares

When Jay Z bought Tidal, he rebranded a music streaming service with the unfortunate name WIMP. According to Bloomberg, he “may be showing signs of buyer’s remorse, at least with regard to what he paid for his music-streaming service.” After paying $56 million for the service, it turns out that the initial subscriber numbers may have been fudged.

“It became clear after taking control of Tidal and conducting our own audit that the total number of subscribers was actually well below the 540,000 reported to us by the prior owners,” Tidal said in an e-mailed statement. “As a result, we have now served legal notice to parties involved in the sale.”

Before it became Tidal, WIMP was an obscure streaming service that was popular among audiophiles because it offered lossless streaming. When Mr. Z launched Tidal, he tried to focus on the fact that it was partially “artist-owned”, as if anyone paying to stream music cared. He brought it some exclusives (which it turns out weren’t that exclusive after all), and alienated those few people who did like WIMP. Tidal made up stories, blaming Apple for things the company didn’t do, and rips off people who buy lossless downloads from them.

Tidal says that it now has more than 3 million users, which, frankly, amazes me. The focus on lossless streaming targets a very small segment of the music listening audience, and I’d be surprised if many of those 3 million users pay more to stream lossless; I think it’s more likely that most of Tidal’s users are attracted by the stars attached to the brand, and the few exclusives it has.

It’s been one blunder after another, at Tidal; as Bloomberg says:

Tidal has replaced its top management several times since the acquisition, and an attempt to sell the service to Samsung Electronics Co. collapsed, Variety reported this month.

It seems clear that Mr Z just wants to get rid of this white elephant, any way he can. Not enough people are willing to pay for Tidal, and no one wants to buy the company. It’s likely that it won’t be around much longer.