Jay-Z has sold a 33 percent share in his Tidal music streaming service to telecom giant Sprint for a reported $200 million.
In announcing the deal, Sprint, the nation’s fourth largest cell phone operator, promised its millions of customers “exclusive content” that they won’t be able to get from any other provider. Although scarce on details, Sprint execs also vowed that new offers and promotions stemming from the new mega-partnership will be “unveiled soon.”
Jay-Z first purchased the music platform in 2015 for $56 million. The service was then made available to customers at a cost of $9.99 per month. Offering high-definition music videos and the option of high-def sound quality, it was instantly seen as a direct rival to the likes of Spotify and iTunes for control of a growing marketplace.
The move by Sprint is widely seen as the proliferation of an ongoing trend that gives the industry leader a strong look in a changing landscape.
“This seems to be the direction the wireless industry is heading in,” said Jeff Kagan, an independent telecom analyst. “Combining different industries to increase value to both.”
Previously rival telecom heavyweights AT&T and Verizon have sought to buy up as much content as they can in hopes of attracting a larger audience share. Verizon recently moved to purchase AOL, while AT&T has been in talks with Time Warner.
The plan also calls for the newly formed conglomerates going head-to-head with other media players for advertising and marketing dollars generated across the industry.
The Tidal/Sprint pairing comes at a time of needed injection for both struggling operations.
Several media reports have recently questioned Jay-Z’s incessant boasts about Tidal now easily topping one million subscribers. However, the company did not release any related figures during Monday’s announcement.
Ebony Magazine also recently reported the company is struggling to attract black listeners, undoubtedly a key demographic to any chance it has of ultimately succeeding.
All the uncertainty recently prompted Jay to take to social media to defend Tidal and remind critics “the iTunes Store wasn’t built in a day,” and “it took Spotify 9 years to be successful.”
Meanwhile, Sprint has known its own woes, with the company recently falling in last place among all major U.S. carriers as subscriber numbers have continued to sharply fall off, forcing major layoffs and talk that its network is in need of major retooling.
Among the obvious incentives for Tidal in doing the deal is its access to Sprint’s roughly 45 million customers. With an aggressive mix of exclusives deals and buzzworthy promotions, the company is hoping to instantly spark growth and bill its audience.
The early days of 2017 look to be a particularly busy time for Beyonce’s husband as he also recently jetted for the Sundance Film Festival to for the premiere of a documentary he executive produced with Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein.
The Spike TV series Time: The Kalief Browder Story is slated to debut soon. The gripping documentary focusses on the life and tragic demise of Browder, who spent three years on Rikers Island, at least two of them in solitary confinement, as a teen without ever being brought to trial for a crime he always insisted he didn’t commit.
Plagued by severe mental issues after finally being released, he later committed suicide. His mother recounted that his struggles became too much for him to bear.
While incarcerated, several media outlets reported that Browder claimed he was regularly beaten and assaulted by other inmates. The news has now prompted New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to seek to reform the city’s long-troubled court system.
Jay-Z and Weinstein inked a first-look deal together late last year.
[Featured Image by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images]