Jay Z's Tidal music service loses its latest CEO

On the job as interim CEO with Tidal for less than three months, Peter Tonstad is the second CEO to exit the artist-owned music service this year.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
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Lance Whitney
Joan E. Solsman
2 min read

Music-streaming site Tidal has lost yet another CEO. Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Jay Z's music-streaming service can't seem to hold onto its CEOs.

On Tuesday, the company announced that interim CEO Peter Tonstad was let go, according to The Wall Street Journal. Tonstad used slightly different terminology to describe his exit, telling Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv that "the only thing I can confirm is that I have resigned."

"We can confirm interim CEO Peter Tonstad is no longer with the company," a Tidal spokesperson said in an email. "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."

This marks the second ouster of a CEO this year. In April, former CEO Andy Chen lost his job along with 24 other people as part of a "streamlining," according to Business Insider. Appointing Tonstad as interim CEO at the time, Tidal said he "has a better understanding of the industry and a clear vision for how the company is looking to change the status quo."

Tonstad's exit is just the latest bump in what has already been a rough entrance into the competitive streaming music field. Purchased by Shawn "Jay Z" Carter in January in a deal worth $56 million, Tidal relaunched at a star-studded event in March as the artist-owned alternative to the likes of Spotify. The service, which offers high-quality audio at $19.99 a month, built anticipation with savvy social media campaign, but the buzz quickly turned to backlash.Tidal's message translated to some consumers as the music world's richest personalities asking fans to pay them more money.

Tidal is a subscription streaming music service, along the same lines as the paid version of Spotify. It offers high-quality audio at $19.99 a month and lower-definition sound for $9.99 a month, the going rate for most subscription streaming services. It doesn't have a free tier that will let people listen without paying by hearing ads. It launched initially in the US in October.

Tidal is up against tough competition in the music streaming market. With just 770,000 paid subscribers, Tidal is a small fry compared with Spotify, which has around 20 million subscribers, the Journal noted. And the competition is about to get more fierce. Apple Music is set to debut on June 30, offering individual plans at $9.99 per month and family plans at $14.99 per month. And Apple already has a huge potential built-in audience after having sold its 1 billionth iOS device as of last November.