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Sprint buys into Jay Z's Tidal in an underdog duet

The carrier now owns one-third of the subscription music service.

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The partnership should benefit Sprint customers and Tidal's subscriber numbers.

Sprint/Tidal

Celeb-owned music-streaming service Tidal is getting a boost from a major US carrier.

Sprint announced Monday that it is buying 33 percent of the service, which is famous for being backed by rapper Jay Z.

Buying a third of Tidal will allow Sprint to offer the service, as well as artist content not available elsewhere, to all 45 million of its customers across the US. Meanwhile, the service will continue to be run by the artists who own it, although Sprint's chief executive, Marcelo Claure, will join Tidal's board.

Tidal has long trailed music-streaming rivals like Spotify and Apple Music when it comes to subscribers, while Sprint is fourth out of the four top US carriers. Still, Sprint pushing its customers toward Tidal could help increase its user numbers. Tidal already boasts high-fidelity streaming, and it has been host to exclusives such as Beyonce's "Lemonade" and Kanye West's "The Life of Pablo."

"Sprint shares our view of revolutionizing the creative industry to allow artists to connect directly with their fans and reach their fullest, shared potential," said Jay Z in a statement.

The growth in subscription music services generally, with their $10-a-month memberships, has helped the music industry in the US make money once again.

Wireless carriers, meanwhile, are in constant search for an edge in ways to attract and retain customers. Sprint in recent months, for instance, has made its stores into Pokemon Go hubs and offered free devices to 1 million students, along with touting improvements in the quality of its network.

Sprint did not immediately respond to request for further comment.

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