Analysis

Tidal interim CEO Peter Tonstad has left the company after two months


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Jay-Z has another problem to add to his list: the latest CEO of Tidal, the streaming music service that the rapper and entrepreneur co-owns with a group of his fellow artists, has left the company.

The story was first reported on Norwegian news site Dagens Næringsliv, complete with a quote from Peter Tonstad: “The only thing I can confirm is that I have resigned,” he said. Tonstad only took up his role on 17 April, meaning he has been in the job a little over two months.

The full DN article is behind a paywall, but other Scandinavian media have picked up the story. Update: since Music Ally’s first story, Tidal has confirmed the news to the Wall Street Journal and provided Music Ally with this statement:

We can confirm interim CEO Peter Tonstad is no longer with the company.  We are thankful to Peter for stepping in as interim CEO and wish him the best for the future. Tidal will be transitioning to a permanent CEO as part of our strategic plan to create a leading platform, and current executives in New York and Oslo will continue to lead our rapidly developing innovation and content initiatives until our new CEO is in place.”

Tonstad’s appointment in April was actually a return to the company, since he was CEO of Aspiro – the company that Jay Z bought to form the basis of Tidal earlier this year – between 2011 and 2014.

Tonstad’s reappointment was the first significant move by Aspiro’s new owners. He replaced previous CEO Andy Chen, who left the company two weeks after the acquisition – sent on his way with a statement by Tidal claiming Tonstad “has a better understanding of the industry and a clear vision for how the company is looking to change the status quo”.

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,” Tonstad told Swedish news site Breakit at the time, although it is true that he was described then as “interim CEO” rather than a permanent replacement for Chen.

It remains to be seen whether a replacement is waiting in the wings with an even better understanding of the industry, but the news caps a tumultuous period for Tidal, after its starry relaunch press conference was widely seen as a misfire.

Many journalists have been quick to condemn the streaming service as doomed, given the competition from Spotify, Apple and others, yet in recent weeks things had been looking up for Tidal. Its chief investment officer Vania Schlogel had given a series of interviews setting out the company’s plans for evolution, as it reached 900,000 subscribers by early June.

I just did not anticipate that within 48 hours people would jump in so quickly and tell this story for us as if it’s gospel,” Schlogel told The Verge earlier in June. “That was so fast. We weren’t even given a month of our own actions to tell the story.”

Stuart Dredge

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