Jay Z’s popular music service, Tidal, has achieved modest success over the last year, offering its 4 million-plus subscribers a unique listening and viewing experience. Now sources say the company is up for grabs by tech giant Apple.
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Apple is in talks to acquire the rap mogul’s music streaming service. Due to Tidal’s strong ties to big names like Kanye West and Madonna, the tech company is looking to buy the service to bolster its own Apple Music business.
Discussions are ongoing and may not result in a deal, according to sources familiar with the matter. However, a spokesperson for Tidal asserts that no such talks between Apple and Tidal execs have occurred.
Jay Z shelled out $56 million for the service in March 2015, buying it from Swedish company Aspiro. The rapper has since given 19 artists and bands a small stake in the company, promising them millions of dollars in marketing, the Wall Street Journal reports.
For $20 a month, Tidal users have access to a high-fidelity version of its 40 million-song and video catalog. That’s double the highest subscription rate for business rival Spotify, according to The Guardian.
Tidal is also the only streaming service to offer the back catalog of music superstar Prince, who died of an accidental overdose on April 21. Prince was wary of other music streaming services but had a close relationship with Jay Z, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Tidal has had its fair share of issues, however. The company ran through three chief executives in one year, signaling major issues with its management. Jeff Toig, former chief business officer of SoundCloud, has served as company CEO since January, according to the newspaper.
In the midst of shuffling executives, a California man sued Jay Z and fellow rapper Kanye West, accusing the duo of conning fans into subscribing to the service by promising exclusive access to West’s newest album. The rapper’s album later appeared on other music services, including Apple.
According to NBC News, the 26-page suit filed by Justin Baker-Rhett alleged the company’s “deceptive marketing ploy” helped Tidal collect consumers’ personal info and increase its subscriber and streaming numbers.
While the possibility of Apple acquiring the service is slim, Tidal would no longer be able to boast the fact that it’s Black-owned if the deal goes through. The business is also co-owned by DJ Calvin Harris and singer Chris Martin.
Jay Z came under fire last month after going on a tirade about how Black people don’t support Black-owned businesses like his. However, a photo circulated on social media showing the mogul and his wife, Beyoncé, surrounded by a group of mostly white Tidal employees, and fans questioned whether he was really committed to hiring Black people.
“Critics charge that Jay-Z’s recent on-stage rant about racism was a ploy to get the backing of the Black community for his Tidal streaming service without him taking measurable steps toward true diversity within his company,” website Financial Juneteenth stated.