Jay-Z’s Tidal music service loses its second CEO since launching this year


Apple Music may be sorting through its own not so behind-the-scenes shuffling ahead of its launch in one week, but the Jay-Z backed Tidal music streaming service is continuing to struggle at the top. Less than three months since starting the job of interim CEO, Peter Tonstad will no longer be leading the company, the WSJ reported today.

Tonstad only took the role after Andy Chen, Tidal’s previous CEO, parted with the company after Jay-Z acquired it earlier this year. While Tonstad’s role was said to be as interim from the start, the latest CEO shuffle doesn’t appear to be because Tidal has found a permanent chief executive officer. The WSJ says executives in New York and Oslo where the company is based will take over operations until a new CEO is found.

With Spotify being the most popular streaming music service and Apple Music entering the space at the end of this month, Tidal has used exclusive music and videos and a high-fidelity tier to differentiate itself from the competition. Aside from higher quality music streaming, Tidal’s pitch has been in part to appeal to artists who feel unfairly compensated by other services, although it’s not clear if that pitch resonates well enough with subscribers to be effective.

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  1. PhilBoogie - 8 years ago

    On the subject of switching CEO’s they can ask the expertise from RIM, née, Blackberry.

  2. Time to call Jack Dorsey. I hear he’s into the whole CEO thing.

  3. galley99 - 8 years ago

    If I ran Tidal, I would market the service to audiophiles with an emphasis on full-album playback, expanded liner notes and music history. I would jettison radio, and curated playlists would only exist for groups of related albums. Their would be no shuffle mode.
    Why would I want to do the exact same thing everyone else is?

    • I listen to my own music by albums as well and hear you loud and clear. But there’s no money to be made marketing that concept, including liner notes, to an audiophile demographic. It’s just so insignificant that it would never be able to cover its own costs, let alone earn a profit.

      • I think you are completely correct, Bruno. The only follow-up question I have relates to artists who claim to want people to listen to their whole albums. (Ideally this would be all artists! After all, why put work into an album if you don’t care about most of the songs and the order in which they are played? But of course, some artists are more vocal about this than others.)

        Is it possible that artists might accept a different payment structure based around the popularity of songs? For example, rather than paying for plays of any song, Tidal could pay artists a different rate for the singles than for other songs on the album? Then, the restrictions that galley99 proposes (only full album playback) could serve to reduce Tidal’s costs.

        If artists were committed to people hearing their whole albums, then Tidal could offer them more control. It might lead artists to want to put exclusive content on Tidal, as they might see Tidal as the most artist-friendly service.

        Still… when I use Spotify, I play whole albums. Tidal has little to make someone switch, even if we could restructure the company to make it more fiscally sound.

  4. jimobrien - 8 years ago

    I find Tidal attractive, its playlists well constructed, behind the scenes videos compelling, its concert videos well produced, its breadth admirable, its audio quality a good step up. There are some good innovations in its interface. It’s in a crowded market and yes its hard to stand-out enough especially against juggernauts. It’d be good for the core musicians behind Tidal to come to its rescue and actively promote it.


Avatar for Zac Hall Zac Hall

Zac covers Apple news for 9to5Mac and hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour and 9to5Mac Watch Time podcasts.