Sprint Nabs 33% of Jay Z’s Tidal, But Has Streaming Company Been Inflating Subscriber Numbers?

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Jay Z (Joella Marano/Flickr)

Sprint has purchased a third of Jay Z’s Tidal, promising to make the music streaming service available to its 45 million cellular customers just after a report accused the music company of overstating its subscriber numbers.

In a joint release by Tidal and Sprint issued Monday, Jan. 23, they revealed artists would develop exclusive content with limitless access for Sprint’s present and future customers. Current Tidal subscribers won’t see a difference in their service.

“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 said in a statement. “[Sprint CEO] Marcelo [Claure] understood our goal right away and together we are excited to bring Sprint’s 45 million customers an unmatched entertainment experience.”

Claure, who will join Tidal’s Board of Directors as Jay Z and artist-owners keep managing the service, praised the rapper’s handling of the music company.

“Jay saw not only a business need, but a cultural one,” he said in a statement, “and put his heart and grit into building Tidal into a world-class music streaming platform that is unrivaled in quality and content.”

In order to provide exclusive content, a source told Billboard the Sprint-Tidal deal also includes a “dedicated marketing fund” that will be supported by a $75 million annual budget.

Before Jay Z and Claure celebrated the partnership, however, a Jan. 20 report by Norwegian business newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv alleged Tidal had been inflating its subscriber numbers.

The study, translated by Forbes, said the company boasted 3 million subscribers in March 2015. The following month, the paper said, Tidal actually had 1.2 million internal patrons. Dagens Naeringsliv also claimed that in Oct. 2015, the internal subscribers numbers increased to over 1 million after 170,000 additions appeared overnight. That change happened soon after Jay Z tweeted about Tidal reaching “platinum” status with “1,000,000 people and counting.” A former employee anonymously told Dagens Naeringsliv Tidal purposely falsified the numbers, and noted the climb to 1 million occurred by reactivating accounts in Denmark and Norway without notifying affected users.

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