Sprint has acquired a 33% stake in Tidal, the upstart music streaming service owned by Jay Z, both companies announced early Monday. The deal establishes a partnership that will extend Tidal's service to Sprint's 45 million customers.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but a source told Billboard that Sprint paid $200 million for the privilege. Jay Z, and a coterie of superstar co-owners — including Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Madonna — will retain part ownership in Tidal, a representative of the companies confirmed to BuzzFeed News.
Tidal's artist-owners will now make some content exclusively for Sprint customers, according to the press release, while Jay Z will continue to run the service. Details on how Sprint customers will be able to access Tidal, and whether the service's premium features, such as hi-fidelity audio, are covered under the partnership will be announced "down the road," the representative said.
“Sprint shares our view of revolutionizing the creative industry to allow artists to connect directly with their fans and reach their fullest, shared potential,” Jay Z said in a statement. Marcelo Claure, CEO of Sprint “understood our goal right away,” the hip hop mogul's statement continued.
Rumors of a Tidal sale have percolated since shortly after Jay Z acquired the service, for $56 million, almost exactly two years ago. Apple, which launched its own streaming service in 2015, had reportedly considered partnering, but an executive at the company told BuzzFeed News in Sept. 2016 that it had no plans to move forward with such a deal. Last summer, Recode reported that Samsung, another rumored suitor, had walked away from acquisition talks.
Since its launch, Tidal has distinguished itself with a series of high profile exclusive releases — available only to subscribers who pay $9.99 per month or more — from its artist-owners, including Kanye West's album The Life of Pablo and Beyoncé's Lemonade. (West's project was eventually released to other streaming services, while Lemonade remains a Tidal exclusive.) The streamer has also seen a revolving door of executives, including two CEOs who departed in their first year.
Reggie Ugwu is a features writer for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Reggie Ugwu at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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