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Hectic days at Tidal HQ: CEO Andy Chen steps down, while Jay Z calls up subscribers

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If you’re on the fence about Tidal, Jay Z’s hi-fidelity music streaming service, we’ve got some good news and some bad news. If you sign up, Jay Z himself may give you a call. But news that the company’s Swedish CEO of two years, Andy Chen, has left the fold and 25 employees have been laid off suggest Jay Z’s had a full plate lately.

Related: Jay Z’s Tidal gets a facelift, adds emphasis on video and exclusive content

Tidal executive Vania Schlogel told Business Insider that the rapper has personally called some of the site’s subscribers. “He called some of his fans and one of them made the funniest comment,” said Schlogel. “He said ‘This is the best customer service call I’ve ever received!’” The report also mentioned that Jack White and other Tidal endorsers have called users.

Tidal’s artist co-owners, which include Beyonce, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Madonna, Deadmau5, Alicia Keys and others, are given accounts on the site to see who listens to their music, according to the report. The platform also gives users’ contact information so these star musicians can call their fans. It’s certainly a big ask for these celebrities to call their fans, but we suppose the musicians will comply when Jay Z’s their boss. (It also doesn’t hurt that the musicians have equity in the streaming service.)

But news of Chen leaving — and former CEO Peter Tonstad taking his place — may mean that there’s some internal struggle going on between Jay Z and the app’s original team in Sweden. Tonstad’s public statement, which VentureBeat received from Swedish site Breakit, certainly hints at changes in the streaming service.

“I believe in TIDAL and what the team is doing to effect the change the music industry needs,” Tonstad said. “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.”

It’s been an eventful first month for the artist-run streaming service that prides itself on lossless audio, fairer payments to artists, and exclusive content. The service has also received its fair share of backlash. Jay Z asking artists to call their fans is certainly an aggressive tactic, but it’s more gimmick than business strategy. As Tidal continues to re-shape itself, it has big aspirations. We may find out in the next few months whether or not they can be realized.

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Chris Leo Palermino
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Chris Leo Palermino is a music, tech, business, and culture journalist based between New York and Boston. He also contributes…
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