Hear that? It’s the sound of the Tidal wave — crashing.
Two weeks after rapper-entrepreneur Jay Z brought out Beyoncé and a half-dozen of the pop music world’s biggest stars onstage with him to roll out the Tidal high-quality music service as a new business model in the streaming world, the Tidal app has plummeted out of iTunes’ Top 700 iPhone apps chart.
Initially it appeared in the Top 20, but now is nowhere to be found — and already the company is making some seismic changes in an attempt to reboot the nascent operation, having cut loose CEO Andy Chen and replaced him with former Aspiro CEO Peter Tonstad, laid off 25 employees and is even having Jay and Jack White personally call subscribers on the phone.
“I believe in Tidal and what the team is doing to affect the change the music industry needs,” Tonstad told the Swedish news site Breakit. “We’re streamlining the company and refocusing our resources to ensure the platform continues to grow, and listeners can make a connection to their favorite artists. No one else is doing this.”
Tidal entered the market offering two tiers of service — a standard service for $9.99 per month and a premium tier with high-resolution audio downloads for $19.99 — but no free tier like rivals Spotify and Rhapsody offer to entice new users to try them.
Meanwhile, Spotify and Rhapsody edged out the massively popular Candy Crush Saga app to take the No. 3 and 4 positions, respectively, on the U.S. iPhone revenue chart as of Monday (April 20), indicating these comparatively long-running services are still growing.
The Beats Music service, which rapper mogul Dr. Dre and former Interscope Records chief Jimmy Iovine sold last year to Apple, has made it into the Top 20 of the iPhone revenue chart, as well.
Pundits, including The Times' pop critic Randall Roberts, have noted the mixed message Jay Z and the other high-profile Tidal spokespeople (and minority shareholders) may have sent in their introduction of the service, with millionaire pop musicians trying to make a case for a company that promises to pay musicians more equitably than its rivals.
"Next time Jay Z, Arcade Fire's Win Butler and Regine Chassagne and Jason Aldean pitch something for the good of starving artists," Roberts wrote earlier this month, "they probably shouldn't do it while in a mansion holding Champagne flutes and toasting their gold-leafed good fortune."
In a statement earlier this week, a Tidal spokesperson said the recent changes at the top and throughout the company were made to sharpen its focus.
“We've eliminated a handful of positions and refocused our company-wide talent to address departments that need support and cut redundancies," the Tidal rep said.
"Tonstad has a better understanding of the industry and a clear vision for how the company is looking to change the status quo," the rep continued. "He's streamlining resources to ensure talent is maximized to enhance the customer experience."