Monday, February 29, 2016

Samsung is in talks to buy Tidal

Written by Claire Atkinson — Looks like Tidal’s ship may be coming in.

Phone giant Samsung, which enjoys a long relationship with Jay Z’s music streaming service, has restarted talks to acquire the 16-month-old company, several sources told The Post.

Samsung, which is expected to have a big presence at this year’s Oscars, has long been rumored as an interested buyer — and has held on-and-off talks with Tidal.

Samsung ponied up some $28 million to sponsor Rihanna’s latest album and tour. The 28-year-old singer is a partner in Tidal and is signed to Jay Z’s Roc Nation label.

“Samsung is re-engaging; they are working on something really big, and they’re keeping it very quiet in case it leaks,” said a source close to the talks.

A spokesperson for Samsung said: “It is our policy to not comment on rumors or speculation.”

Google and Spotify have also been eyeing Tidal, sources said. Both believe Tidal, although struggling, can bolster their own digital music services.

Talks the companies are having with Tidal now appear to be aimed at smaller partnerships, sources said.

Spotify has discussed creating an initiative that could produce a Tidal “powered by Spotify” partnership rather than an acquisition.

Tidal has succeeded in attracting upwards of 1 million subscribers but has faced several stumbles in its short life. The firm in December hired its third boss, naming former SoundCloud executive Jeff Toig as chief executive.

Also, Tidal accidentally released Rihanna’s album “Anti” early while Kanye West’s latest album, “The Life of Pablo,” suffered from huge piracy issues after it was released widely even to nonsubscribers of Tidal.

The piracy cost West at least $10 million in lost sales in the first days of its release, The Post reported.

The dysfunction, though common to many tech startups, has been eating into Tidal’s financing.

“The pressure is definitely on,” said one source who confirmed that Tidal is having trouble paying some of its royalty bills on time.

In addition, Jay Z has reached into his own pocket to help boost the music streamer, another source noted.

“Tidal certainly needs a new home to stay alive,” said a music industry insider.

Tidal was unveiled in October 2014 with a unique selling point: high-fidelity music and an artist-owned collective.

Its owners include Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna and Alicia Keys.

Back then, phone company Sprint got a shout-out from the stage and was expected to become an equity backer. That never happened, in part because of concerns that Tidal didn’t own much beyond a technology service.

Potential backers were concerned that artists would be constrained from promoting Tidal exclusive releases by their own label deals, sources said.

Tidal executives, around the time of the launch, believed it was worth as much as $250 million.

It is now valued at about $100 million, according to sources in the streaming space.

Tidal’s predecessor, Aspiro, was acquired for $56 million early last year.

Both Samsung and Tidal declined comment.

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