Less than a month into Jay Z's Tidal reign, the rapper is already effecting major changes. The streaming service has parted ways with Andy Chen, the CEO of Tidal's parent company Aspiro that Jay Z purchased for $56 million. Former Aspiro CEO Peter Tonstad will replace Chen on an interim basis. Business Insider reports that the Chen departure was the most notable of about 25 employee layoffs Tidal made Friday.
Aspiro hired Chen prior to Jay Z's acquisition of the company, so it wasn't unexpected that the rapper would prefer to put his stamp on Tidal by hiring his own executives. "Tonstad has a better understanding of the industry and a clear vision for how the company is looking to change the status quo," a Tidal rep said in a statement. "He's streamlining resources to ensure talent is maximized to enhance the customer experience. We've eliminated a handful of positions and refocused our company-wide talent to address departments that need support and cut redundancies."
News of the Tidal shakeup comes just after it was revealed that Jay Z, Jack White and more of the high-quality audio streaming service's marquee artists have personally called subscribers to thank them for choosing the fledging, artist-friendly service. That unique customer service could give Tidal an edge over competitors like Spotify, Pandora and Apple's Beats Music, which will relaunch later this year with a new name and look.
In a statement, Tonstad said, "I believe in Tidal and what the team is doing to affect the change the music industry needs. 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." As part of Tidal's transparent infrastructure, artists can see which subscribers are listening to their music and how often.
Before Jay Z bought Aspiro, Rolling Stone spoke to Chen last year when the CEO was planning on bringing the Sweden-born Tidal across the Atlantic. "I personally think that the competition of streaming music is not necessarily the one who shouts the loudest will win. It's not like we're trying to take down the other services. We all have different things to offer," Chen said. "We need to actually achieve sustainability and grow sustainably. We cannot afford to take highly leveraged risks."