After more than half a year without a permanent leader, Jay Z's music streaming service Tidal finally has a new CEO. Jeff Toig, who previously worked as the chief business officer of SoundCloud, will step into the role in January, becoming Tidal's third CEO in the eight months since the music service launched. As permanent CEO, Toig will aim to differentiate the company from larger competitors such as Spotify and Apple Music, leaning on Tidal's ties with top-tier artists to promote live shows, offer exclusive tracks, and giving subscribers the chance to meet musicians.
Toig's appointment fills the gap vacated after interim CEO Peter Tonstad stepped down in June. Tonstad replaced Andy Chen, who held the top job at Norwegian streaming service Aspiro, before Jay Z bought the company for $56 million, rebranded it as Tidal, and relaunched it in March. Chen was fired a month later.
It's Tidal's third CEO in eight months
Vania Schlogel, Tidal's chief investment officer and the public face of the company since its relaunch, downplayed Chen's departure and perceived problems within the company in April. Speaking at Variety‘s Entertainment and Technology Summit, she said that Tidal was "excited to be working with Peter," stating that "he knows the ins and outs." In The Verge's profile of the company, it was clear that Schlogel was instrumental in directing Tidal's future in the absence of a permanent CEO, but she too left the company a short while later — her quiet departure this past summer was only uncovered in November.
Tidal has closer connections with big-name artists than its competitors — Beyoncé, Rihanna, Kanye West, Madonna, and other megastars have financial stakes in the company and were trotted out for its launch — but so far the company has been unable to capitalize on those connections. Tidal pays slightly more to artists than Spotify does, but a desire to communicate this message at the company's star-studded launch left a sour taste for many, who saw a group of multi-millionaires demanding even more cash. The company's biggest concert so far, Tidal 10/20, was also sorely underwhelming despite a lineup incredible on paper.
Streaming competitor Rdio already went bankrupt this year
Toig's appointment as permanent CEO may help right Tidal's ship in stormy seas, but he'll need to move fast. Streaming competitors have already claimed one big fish this year, taking down the comparatively long-running Rdio last month, and YouTube, a quiet giant in music streaming terms, is continuing its shift into the industry. Upstart Apple Music at least has the financial weight of Apple's hardware division behind it; Tidal only has Jay Z — and even then, only when he remembers his streaming service exists.