Can Tidal stay afloat? Streaming service reportedly owes big bucks

tidal posts 28 million loss for 2015 over 100 unpaid bills announcement
Kevin Mazur/Getty
Despite a fairly steady stream of exclusives, Jay-Z’s music streaming service Tidal has had a tough time gaining subscribers. While the service has pledged to pay more money to artists than other streaming services, now it seems that the company is struggling even to pay its own bills.

A legal filing says that the company had a net loss of $28 million last year, likely a result of trying to play catch-up with streaming heavy hitters like Spotify and Apple music, but that’s far from the worst of the company’s financial situation. Tidal has also received default notices on more than 100 unpaid bills, according to Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv.

Bills reportedly include 1.15 million Norwegian Kroner (roughly $140,000) owed to the company that owns Tidal’s head office and 30,800 Norwegian Kroner (roughly $4,000) to a music festival. Neither Tidal nor parent company Aspire have yet to officially comment, though the allegations have been denied.

In June, Tidal said it had a total of 4.2 million paying subscribers, a number dwarfed by its competitors. Apple Music has reached 17 million subscribers, while Spotify has nearly double that at 30 million paying subscribers. In Spotify’s case, that number ignores its total subscriber base, including those on the free ad-supported plan, which recently topped 100 million.

Part of Tidal’s subscriber problem could have to do with its pricing. While the company promises higher-quality audio than many of its competitors, it is only available to subscribers of its high-fidelity streaming plan, which costs $20 per month — twice that of either Spotify or Apple Music.

Earlier this year, rumors floated that Apple was looking into acquiring Tidal, despite already owning its own increasingly successful streaming music service. It seems that the rumor was just that, but even if that wasn’t the case, Apple would likely be wary of the company’s tarnished image at this point.

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