Jay Z’s plan to revolutionize the streaming industry has hit a snag. In January, the rapper put in a $56 million offer to buy Aspiro, the Swedish company which controls high-quality streaming services WiMP and TIDAL. But that bid has been blocked by Aspiro’s minority shareholders, according to Swedish newspaper Dagens Industri (via Fact), despite having received a unanimous preliminary approval from the company’s board of directors.
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The shareholders were reportedly displeased with the original terms, questioning Jay Z’s ability to help finance Aspiro’s expansion into international markets. But there’s still hope for the deal to be revamped, as the offer’s acceptance period ends March 11th.
A spokesperson for Aspiro said that the company cannot make any public statements until all stockholders have responded on March 11th.
Fredrik Bjørland, chairman of the independent board committee involved in the deal, tells Rolling Stone, though, that he is still optimistic that the deal will go through. “We still believe the offer from [Jay Z’s company Project] Panther is attractive for both the company and its shareholders, and recommend the offer based on this,” Bjørland tells Rolling Stone. “We have learned from the press that some of the organizations representing minority shareholders have recommended to not accept the offer. [That] recommendation to not accept the offer involves high risk.”
In January, a spokesperson for Shawn Carter Enterprises (SCE) confirmed to Rolling Stone that a deal was being pursued. “Aspiro is a media technology company in the forefront of the ongoing redefinition of music consumption,” said the spokesperson. “Through the subscription services WiMP and TIDAL, Aspiro offers a complete experience of higher HiFi quality. The platform encompasses audio, video and integrated editorial features.
“Panther believes that the recent developments in the entertainment industry, with the migration to media streaming, offers great potential for increased entertainment consumption and an opportunity for artists to further promote their music,” the statement continued. “Panther’s strategic ambition revolves around global expansion and up-scaling of Aspiro’s platform, technology and services.”
Like Pono, Neil Young’s high-end digital music player, WiMP and TIDAL use lossless files, a higher-quality alternative to those used by most streaming competitors. In Aspiro’s October financial report, the company listed WiMP with 512,000 paying subscribers – a far cry from Spotify’s 15 million. TIDAL users reportedly pay $20 for the service, twice the cost of Spotify’s Premium rate.
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