History has been made, beauties. Jay Z has broken ground in the music industry by relaunching Tidal, the world’s first artist-owned global music streaming platform. This new hi-definition streaming service that’s now being pitted against big-shot platforms like Spotify and iTunes. Mr. Carter’s got everyone buzzing with his press-conference that was live-streamed earlier today and with a star-studded Instagram video promoting his latest venture. The video featured appearances from A-listers like Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Madonna, Daft Punk, Kanye West and Chris Martin. Tidal claims its mission is to put power back into music artists’ hands. The question is: will consumers shell out the standard $9.99 for the music service when they can get the same songs elsewhere for free?
With this kind of spokesmanship from Jay Z’s crew of famous and influential artists, it just might work. Artists like the ones mentioned above along with others like Usher, DeadMau5 and Alicia Keys, J.Cole all stood together the stage and put down their signatures to have their music distributed through the platform. In the hours leading up to the event, stars were also promoting the relaunch on their Twitter and Instagram profiles with the #TIDALforALL hashtag and changing their profiles to match the brand’s teal color. Even Taylor Swift is are getting in on the action. After famously pulling her songs from Spotify for the low pay-out, she’s given Tidal premium access to some of her older albums.
What’s in it for the artists? Of course, there’s the connection to Jay Z and Roc Nation—an agency that’s got a long roster of other musicians to work with that will offer publishing, management and label services to boost their distribution. There’s also supposedly a much more accommodating set of payouts for artists when their music is played that doubles competing rates that are offered by competing services. It remains to be seen, however, if the smaller, initial set of Tidal subscribers will reap top results that can be gained with Spotify’s audience. Tech Crunch reports that Tidal only has 35,000 paid subscribers at the moment, while Spotify has a minimum of 15 million according to a count from January.
But aside from all the celebrity endorsements and the hefty artist payouts, what makes Tidal so special for consumers? There’s no free, ad-based options for the service. However, there is a 30-day trial and subscribers would have streaming access before others using rival platforms. More than that, the service’s promo videos boast an extensive collection, it combines hi-quality “lossless” sound, “expertly curated playlists,” articles and features on subscribers’ top artists and seamless functionality.
Jay Z bought Tidal in a $56 million deal for Aspiro, Tidal’s parent company earlier this month on March 11. I’m curious to see where Jay Z’s latest business venture goes because it speaks to the ongoing trend we’ve seen among black music artists and media makers taking control over how their content is created and distributed. Janelle Monae has also been making headlines with business moves at her record label, Wondaland, signing on exciting new artists and building her own empire one empire at a time. It looks like artists are seeing the value of their creativity and being business savvy enough to maximize their profits. Let’s see which of our favorite music stars becomes a big time mogul next—and if Tidal continues to succeed among a generation of listeners with less appreciation for sound quality and more interest in getting music fast with little to no cost.