Jay Z's Foray into Music Streaming / by Maxwell Young

It's no secret that the music industry has changed.  The way in which we consume music is different.  The days of the prominent record stores are long gone and so is the era of purchased music downloads.  In this past year alone, track and album downloaded purchases dropped by 12.5% and 9.4% respectively.  What's taking the downloaded purchases place? Streaming.  The introduction of companies like Spotify, which boasts 15 million subscriptions, and SoundCloud are redefining how music is listened to and how it is consumed.

Having been vocal about the evolution of the music business in past interviews, Jay Z has jumped into the fray by purchasing Aspiro, the parent company of two subscription streaming services, WiMP and TIDAL.  The $56.2 million offer, which has already been approved, represents a 59.1% premium over the company's closing share price.  The proposal was made through one of Shawn Carter's subsidiary companies, Project Panther Bidco, with the intention of expanding and improving upon the two companies' technology and services.

Project Panther Bidco, Ltd ("Panther"), an entity controlled by S. Carter Enterprises, LLC ("SCE") is pursuing a possible acquisition of Aspiro AB ("Aspiro"), based in Sweden. Aspiro is a media technology company in the forefront of the ongoing redefinition of music consumption. 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. Panther's strategic ambition revolves around global expansion and up-scaling of Aspiro's platform, technology and services.

The acquisition is subject to shareholder approval. As such there is no guaranty that a transaction will take place.

WiMP was initially founded in 2011 as a direct competitor to Spotify.  Although it has been unable to reach the volume Spotify has, it does have a current paying subscription list of 512,000 users.  Moreover, WiMP provides a unique video syndication platform, RADR Music, which presents videos and live performance footage to online media enterprises.  Rivaling media behemoth YouTube, RADR is an interesting element to the Aspiro portfolio as it could be used to expand upon Jay Z's current cultural website Life and Times.  TIDAL, while similar to WiMP, is for the music purists, combining High Fidelity sound quality, High Definition music videos and a uniquely curated experience.

Although the specific details of the change to be implemented have yet to be disclosed, there is much work to be done in terms of transforming these companies into being actual competitors to the already popular streaming services.  Things don't get any easier when you consider the re-launch of Beats Electronics' streaming services by Apple in the coming months as well.  Jay Z, forever the business man, continues to diversify his ventures in ways that expand upon the foundation he has built.  Stay tuned with InTheRough for more developments on Aspiro.