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Nearly two years after first denying a rumored investment, Sprint has announced its acquisition of a 33 percent stake in Jay Z's competitive streaming service Tidal. The partnership will provide Sprint's 45 million customers with "unlimited access" to exclusive artist content. Anyone with a preexisting Tidal subscription, meanwhile, will experience no change in their service.
"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 press release Monday. "[Sprint CEO] Marcelo [Claure] understood our goal right away and together we are excited to bring Sprint's 45 million customers an unmatched entertainment experience."
A source close to the deal told Billboard Monday that the purchase was for an estimated $200 million and that all of Tidal's two dozen artist-owners will remain aboard. "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," Claure added. "The passion and dedication that these artist-owners bring to fans will enable Sprint to offer new and existing customers access to exclusive content and entertainment experiences in a way no other service can."
The partnership includes the development of a "dedicated marketing fund" just for artists. According to Sprint and Tidal's joint press release, the fund—estimated by Billboard to boast an annual budget of $75 million—will give participating artists the "flexibility to create and share their work" with their audience.
Additional details are expected to be announced soon.