Move over, Dr. Dre. Another rapper is entering the streaming music business. Jay Z, through his bidding firm Project Panther, has offered $56 million to buy Swedish streaming company Aspiro, and its board has recommended shareholders take the deal, according to a press release.
Though streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora aren’t scarce, Aspiro’s WiMP and Tidal offerings stand out by focusing on what’s billed as “high fidelity” audio that uses lossless audio formats. WiMP counts more than 500,000 paid subscribers in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Poland. Tidal came to the United States and Britain last fall and costs $20 a month, about twice the price of the leading streaming services.
More and more companies have been promising higher-quality digital audio recently, though it’s unclear just yet how much customer demand exists. Neil Young recently launched his PonoMusic player. Sony unveiled a high-resolution Walkman earlier this month. As The New York Times notes, Deezer has an arrangement with Sonos speakers for its high-res Elite version.
Jay Z’s bid comes as he has been expanding his Roc Nation business, a joint venture with entertainment conglomerate Live Nation. In recent years, Roc Nation has stepped into such areas as artist management and athlete representation.
In a statement through Project Panther, as reported by the Financial Times, Jay Z signaled a push to grow Aspiro’s business internationally. “Panther believes that the recent developments in the entertainment industry, with the migration to music and media streaming, offers great potential for increased entertainment consumption and an opportunity for artists to further promote their music,” he said. “Panther’s strategic ambition revolves around global expansion and upscaling of Aspiro’s platform, technology and services.”
Apple bought Dre’s Beats Music streaming service and Beats Electronics headphones company last spring for $3 billion.