Tidal – the music streaming service that rapper Jay Z launched to a lot of fanfare in March – continues to steep in business troubles. Rumors abound that Sony Music is threatening to pull its content from the service — including songs by Jay Z's own wife, Beyoncé.
Citing people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg Businessweek reported that Sony is demanding "large advances" from Tidal to allow the service to stream the music of its artists. Unless Jay Z is able to negotiate a favorable contract with the record publishing firm, Sony will take out music by Beyoncé and other musicians who are Tidal equity owners, including Alicia Keys, Daft Punk and Usher.
However, the report goes on to say that Tidal has succeeded in negotiating a similar deal with Warner Bros. — and the streaming service, which is owned by Aspiro, remains well-funded. It is therefore likely that Jay Z will be able to fork over the cash to keep Beyoncé's music in the service.
Sony Music has itself dashed down the rumors, with CEO Doug Morris saying the firm continues to cheer on Tidal. Tidal aims to balance out the big record company middlemen standing between artists and consumers, and to pay more in royalties to the artists themselves.
"Jay Z is a friend and business associate for many years. I have always admired his business acumen, entrepreneurship and his passion for music," Morris said in a statement to ET Canada. "All of our content, including Beyoncé, is available through the Tidal service and we have announced no plans to remove our catalog from Tidal. Like all of our other partners, we are rooting for Jay and Tidal to succeed."
That said, it remains to be seen how Tidal plans to extract itself from the swirl of negative publicity. It was already stirred up on day one, when Jay Z decided to launch the new artist-friendly service by gathering his millionaire musician friends and claiming to save the music industry while making even more money.
"They totally blew it by bringing out a bunch of millionaires and billionaires and propping them up onstage and then having them all complain about not being paid," said Ben Gibbard, lead singer of the rock band Death Cab for Cutie.
Tidal's pitch is offering exclusive content from artists that will not be available anywhere else. So far, however, the only exclusive content available from Tidal is Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj's "Feelin' Myself" video and a J. Cole concert.