There’s no denying Tidal has undergone a bit of a renaissance lately, nailing a few gigantic album exclusives in a row from their premiere co-owner talent, Rihanna, T.I., Beyoncé and Kanye West.
The wins certainly moved the needle in measurable ways: The Tidal app rose to its highest point ever in the iTunes Store following West’s TLOP drop, and his exclusive—which is still in progress as of this writing—has reportedly added on a million trial members since 2/22.
But after the defection of a string of executives (Tidal has its third CEO—former SoundCloud Chief Business Officer Jeff Toig joined in late 2015), who exactly is orchestrating these five-star exclusive artist plays? Sources behind the scenes say that person is Desiree Perez, a trusted close associate of Jay Z for nearly 20 years who has a long track record running SC Enterprises, and with her husband “OG” Juan Perez, runs Roc Nation Sports as well.
Perez is known for being a fiercely tough negotiator and rabid numbers cruncher, and has a history and street rep that even Empire’s own Cookie wouldn’t challenge (the N.Y. Daily News calls her “Babe Ruthless”). Des is a BOSS, simply put. Insiders point out that she negotiated the Beyoncé Formation stadium tour, and had a strong hand in the Rihanna Samsung deal as well.
Perez is part of the Hova Circle of Influence that includes her husband, Jay Brown, TyTy Smith, Chaka Pilgrim and Jana Fleischman. This is the collective running the entire operation of not just Roc Nation and its various wings of management, label operations and publishing, but the forces behind the operation of Tidal itself.
The streaming service has been steadily building its own lane as it continues to position itself to young music consumers (or potential corporate buyers—you choose) in the highly-competitive streaming marketplace. Except buried in debt, they have to make an impression with limited resources against deep-pocketed rivals like Spotify and Apple Music.
A peek inside the updated service shows that Tidal has refined its music experience to focus on what’s next and new, instead of a robust catalog offering—which costs more. A curated list of new releases (“Tidal Discovery”) a section about emerging artists (“Tidal Rising”) and exclusive live performance (“TIDAL X”) is their main path forward. One thing Jay has consistently demonstrated is his impeccable taste when it comes to music and the strength of his artist relationships; by empowering his head counsel to ring the alarm for Tidal, he’s now making some serious noise.
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