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Sprint Buys 33% Stake in Jay Z’s Tidal Streaming-Music Service

Sprint has acquired a 33% stake in Tidal, the streaming-music service led by Jay Z, and with the investment the wireless carrier will offer exclusive Tidal content available only to Sprint customers.

The dollar figure of Sprint’s investment was not disclosed. The carrier is investing $200 million in Tidal, giving the New York-based company a valuation of $600 million, Music Business World reported, citing anonymous sources. Sprint is majority-owned by Japanese telecom and internet conglomerate SoftBank.

Jay Z and Tidal’s other artist owners will continue to run the service. Under the pact, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure will join Tidal’s board of directors. The companies didn’t specify what Tidal content and “entertainment experiences” would be available on an exclusive basis to Sprint subscribers, saying they would provide additional details about that in the future.

Tidal, which competes with rivals including Apple Music, Spotify and Google Play Music, last March claimed to have topped 3 million subs. But Tidal had only 1.2 million activated accounts and 850,000 paying customers in early 2016, Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv reported last week.

“Sprint shares our view of revolutionizing the creative industry to allow artists to connect directly with their fans and reach their fullest, shared potential,” Jay Z said in a statement. “Marcelo understood our goal right away and together we are excited to bring Sprint’s 45 million customers an unmatched entertainment experience.”

Tidal offers access to more than 42.5 million songs and 140,000 videos, through its service available in more than 52 countries.

Claure said in a statement, “Jay saw not only a business need, but a cultural one, and put his heart and grit into building Tidal into a world-class music streaming platform that is unrivaled in quality and content.”

Tidal has experienced turmoil among its executive ranks and has been engaged in litigation on several fronts, including being sued by the estate of the late Prince over rights to his back catalog. Jay Z, the stage name of rapper and entrepeneur Shawn Carter, acquired Sweden-based Aspiro for $56 million in January 2015 and Tidal launched in March of that year.

Last summer, the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple was in talks to acquire Tidal.

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