Samsung Is Said to Be Working on Something Big in Music, But Buying Tidal Seems a Long Shot

Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/GettyImages
A logo of Samsung Electronics is seen on the glass door of its showroom in Seoul.

This week, a report surfaced in the New York Post that claimed Samsung, Google and Spotify had all been in talks to purchase Tidal, an assertion the Post softened to conversations regarding "smaller partnerships." Tidal was acquired by Jay Z last year through a $56 million deal for its parent company Aspiro AB.

Multiple sources all but laughed off the idea of an acquisition, with one pointing to partnerships with Samsung -- like the (much-maligned) $25 million sponsorship for Rihanna's album and tour -- as evidence that Tidal is generally in contact with outside companies for collaborative deals. Reps for Google, Spotify and Tidal all declined to comment on the rumor. A request sent to Samsung went unreturned as of press time. 

However, a label source tells Billboard that Samsung is indeed working on “something" big, and that the technology giant has been indicating such behind the scenes for some time. Tidal, though, has not been brought up specifically in connection with those conversations. Whatever that "really big" move could mean is unclear at this point -- a re-tooling of Samsung's internet radio service Milk Music has been rumored, though by all accounts that project has been floundering for some time. A source close to the situation says a deal with Spotify, at least, is not in the cards.

Google, Samsung and Spotify all have (or are) their own streaming services -- Google has two in Google Play and YouTube Red -- making a Tidal acquisition an odd move, particularly as the company has been called out repeatedly for issues and miscalculations of late over the rollout of albums from Rihanna and Kanye West. That said, Tidal counts some of the biggest artists in the world as co-owners, and the potential promotional power of those that would remain after an acquisition must seem compelling to the deep-pocketed in the industry.

While Samsung is keeping its next move under wraps, it hasn't remained idle. Last September, it debuted Samsung Pay in the U.S., a mobile payment system that allows users to make transactions without needing a credit card, announcing yesterday that the feature reached five million subscribers. Just this week, the company opened its first-ever physical location, Samsung 837, in New York City's Meatpacking District neighborhood, a space that's less retail store and more dressed-up, glitzy tech playhouse that it deems a "sandbox for collaborators."


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