Jay Z's streaming service Tidal loses another CEO

The interim head of Jay Z's streaming service Tidal has stepped down, leaving the struggling music company without a chief executive just one week before the launch of Apple Music.  

The departure of Oslo, Norway-based CEO Peter Tonstad marks the second major change in the company's top seat since it relaunched in March. Tonstad stepped in as interim chief after Andy Chen exited the job in April amid a handful of layoffs. 

Scandinavian news outlets first reported the resignation of Tonstad, who once had served as CEO of Tidal's parent company, Aspiro, before Chen took over.

Tidal confirmed that Tonstad had left the company but did not say who would take his place on a permanent basis. Current executives in New York and Oslo will run the company until a replacement is found.

"We are thankful to Peter for stepping in as interim CEO and wish him the best for the future," said a Tidal spokesperson in a statement. "Tidal will be transitioning to a permanent CEO as part of our strategic plan to create a leading platform."

Jay Z, a rapper and mogul worth an estimated $550 million, bought Aspiro earlier this year for $56 million with aspirations of creating a competitor to Spotify, Rdio and Rhapsody that would have the best interests of artists at heart. 

But the company fumbled early with a poorly received news conference featuring multiple famous co-owners such as Madonna, Jack White and Kanye West. Critics hit the company for appearing to assemble the industry's top earners — referred to by some as the "Avengers" of music — to get more money from the growing streaming market.

Tidal has roughly 900,000 users, up from the 500,000 it started with before the relaunch. The company charges $9.99 a month for access to its library of 30 million songs, but unlike Spotify, it does not offer a free, ad-supported version.

Spotify, headquartered in Stockholm, has 20 million paying subscribers and 55 million users who listen for free with commercials.

On June 30, Apple will launch its own well-publicized service in 100 countries. Apple Music, announced earlier this month, will feature a Spotify-like on-demand service for $9.99 a month, plus a free radio station dubbed Beats 1 and a social media component for artists and fans.

Apple has faced its own public backlash from independent artists and labels over the company's plans to not pay royalties during consumers' three-month trial period. The Cupertino tech giant reversed the payments policy after superstar Taylor Swift threatened to withhold her album "1989" from the service.   

Follow Ryan Faughnder on Twitter for more entertainment business coverage: @rfaughnder

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