Launched in early 2015 by rapper Jay-Z, music streaming service Tidal was touted as the first artist-oriented streaming service. The hip-hop legend took aim at Spotify, Pandora, and Apple Music, and hoped that higher quality audio and a more artist-driven business model would help propel his new venture to the top of the industry. Tidal’s debut was a huge event, with its co-owners reflecting a Who’s Who of pop and hip-hop. The young company promised to bring back the feeling of excitement and optimism to the industry, which many have argued has been decimated by the trend toward online streaming. However, despite a promising few days after the app’s launch, Tidal encountered some difficulties competing with the mainstays of the streaming world.
Tidal is competing against its better-funded heavyweight rivals by focusing on new music rather spending money on acquiring an extensive catalog. The curated service attracts a younger demographic interested in the latest hits rather than the past. Despite Jay-Z’s vision, some critics charged that the start-up was “out of touch.” In response, Jay-Z brought in a business associate who had helped manage his operations for years. Desiree (Dez) Perez replaced a string of departing execs and is helping Tidal meet its potential. Perez was behind four exclusive album launches from Rihanna, Beyonce, T.I., and Kanye West. One of the top leaders in Jay-Z’s organization, Perez negoiated both Beyonce’s Formation tour and Rihanna’s sponsorship deal with Samsung.
For years, Perez and her husband Juan Perez have been at the helm of Roc Nation Sports, the sports management division of Jay-Z’s organization. The couple helped establish the division as one of the top boutique agencies, representing elite athletes in nearly all professional sports. Perez is now bringing the same acumen to Tidal to begin the herculean task of taking on their well-established rivals.
Perez, however, remains unfazed. Her reputation as a hard-nosed negotiator and her winning spirit have long been recognized as key assets to Roc Nation and Jay-Z’s other ventures. She is confident that she can use her skills to consolidate the company’s niche as well as grow the fledgling start-up.
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