Please note: After getting a very serious phone call this afternoon from Tidal’s attorneys at ReedSmith LLP, I’d like to emphasize that this is an April Fools’ joke. Thanks!
Jay Z is now liquidating his ownership in Tidal with plans for a complete shutdown and sale, according to details confirmed by multiple sources and a (now deleted) series of tweets. The rapper is planning to announce the closure of the platform at the historic Grand Hotel in Oslo, Norway, in a private event for key investors and members of the media later this evening (Friday). Oslo is where Tidal originated, and remains a critical and active hub for the service.
The announcement is expected to also include top-level information related to a Tidal subscriber acquisition by Google, part of a now-consolidating streaming music space.
News of the Tidal shutdown comes amidst a difficult launch phase. One source close to the Tidal situation pointed to a ‘bevy of frustrations’ experienced by Jay Z (real name Sean Carter), including a constantly changing Kanye West album that is now getting syndicated to rivals Apple Music and Spotify. Other concerns include an avalanche of legal problems and non-stop technical glitches, data reporting errors, disgruntled customer complaints, an ever-changing leadership cast, and a customer base of ‘high maintenance audiophiles’. “This was reaching its 100th problem,” the source noted, referring to the classic Jay Z track, “99 Problems,” released in 2004.
More importantly, Tidal’s 3 million-plus paying subscribers will be transitioned to Google Play Music All Access and YouTube Red, according to a lucrative acquisition deal by Google worth close to $1.4 billion, according to DMN informants.
Google representatives declined to respond to inquiries related to the streaming purchase.
That deal may also involve a roll-up of Tidal with Spotify. Google is now heavily rumored to be preparing to acquire for north of $14 billion, after calling the acquisition off in 2015. The Spotify deal could be announced as early as next week in the Wall Street Journal, though sources emphasized that those talks are separate and haven’t been finalized.
Either way, the Tidal acquisition would potentially make Jay Z the next ‘rap billionaire,’ with Dr. Dre first claiming that status with his $3 billion sale of Beats by Dre to Apple.
The invite-only event in Oslo was confirmed by a press representative of Tidal to Digital Music News at approximately 10:45 pm Thursday evening (PT), though the conversation was brief and the details were extremely light. The representative flatly declined to offer any reasons ahead of the event, outside of stating that ‘Jay Z will have some very important news concerning the future of Tidal and its fans.’
The shocking development comes on the heels of a serious lawsuit between Carter and the previous owners of Tidal, the Olso-based Aspiro AG. Those legal entanglements, first reported by Swedish publication Breakit, involved a number of issues tied to proper disclosure of both the number of subscribers and other key assets related to Tidal.
Security around the Grand Hotel, located in central Oslo, has been elevated after news leaked among local denizens. In a recent poll, Jay Z was listed as the third most popular rapper amongst Norwegians, behind only Fetty Wap and local rapper Rimer Det.
Updated, Apr 1 7:05 am PT: Early Friday morning, Digital Music News received a confidential copy of Jay Z’s planned speech, which solidly confirms the information shared by earlier sources. We have not been given authorization to publish the speech.
More details as they become available.