Jay Z’s Tidal Loses Another Executive

By November 15, 2015 Business, Music No Comments
Jay Z’s Tidal Loses Another Executive

Since Jay Z bought Tidal early this year, the music streaming service has been plagued by frequent management changes and the perception both inside and outside the music industry that it was unlikely to succeed in a market dominated by Spotify, Apple and Pandora.

It now seems that the company’s management turnover has been even more extensive than previously known. Vania Schlogel, the former private equity executive who represented Tidal in public and to investors as its chief investment officer, left the company months ago.

“Earlier this summer, I resigned from Tidal,” Ms. Schlogel said in a statement to The New York Times. “While I am excited about my next venture, which is outside the music industry, I wish Tidal nothing but the best and am proud of the dialogue it has catalyzed to date. I hold the highest degree of respect for each of the artists who have advocated for this dialogue and who display a genuine care for the industry.”

Chris Prouty, a Tidal spokesman, confirmed that Ms. Schlogel had resigned. “As the company has grown,” he said, “there has been less of a need from a financial investment standpoint.”

Ms. Schlogel’s resignation is at least the third high-level departure at Tidal since Jay Z bought the company for $56 million and reintroduced it to the public in a star-studded news conference in New York in March. At that event, Jay Z stood with more than a dozen performers, including Madonna, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Daft Punk, Rihanna and Jack White, who were identified as co-owners of the company.

They presented Tidal as an artist-friendly digital outlet that would feature high-fidelity audio and video, and pay artists fairly. But the event waswidely mocked as tone-deaf and short on details, with commentators and other musicians criticizing Tidal as primarily benefiting an elite group of celebrities. Within weeks, Andy Chen, the chief executive of Aspiro, Tidal’s corporate parent, left the company; his replacement, Peter Tonstad,followed in June. The position has been vacant since Mr. Tonstad’s departure, Mr. Prouty said.

Ms. Schlogel is a former executive at the private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, and at Tidal she became — aside from Jay Z — the company’s public face. She introduced the service at its news conference in March, and in the months afterward frequently represented the company to the public, giving numerous interviews in which she said that the company’s intentions had been misinterpreted.

But after speaking in early June at Midem, a music conference in Cannes, France, Ms. Schlogel seemed to disappear. She had been advertised as a participant in two more industry conferences — the New Music Seminar in New York in June; and Revolt, in Miami Beach in October — but did not show up at either. Ms. Schlogel declined to elaborate on why she left Tidal.

For much of the year, music industry chatter about Tidal has been harsh, as the company worked in apparent haste to secure licensing deals with major record companies, including Sony, the label of Beyoncé, Jay Z’s wife, who is another partner in Tidal. In August, a survey by Billboard magazine of more than 50 anonymous music executives found that 71 percent of respondents expected Tidal to last “one year or less”; only 12 percent said the service was “not going away.”

But Tidal has also had some successes lately. In September, Jay Z said that the service had signed up one million subscribers. (Aspiro ended 2014 with 500,000, according to its annual report.) And in October, a Tidal concert at Barclays Center in Brooklyn featuring Jay Z, Lil Wayne, Usher, Ms. Minaj,Beyoncé and others raised $1.5 million for charity.

This week, however, Tidal faced even more prominent competition when YouTube introduced a music-focused app that, when combined with YouTube Red, a $10-a-month subscription, includes a range of new features like eliminating ads and listening to music offline.

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