Jay Z bought the Swedish company Aspiro’s streaming music service Tidal less than a month ago, but that didn’t stop him from rolling out his rebranded product today with lots of fanfare from his famous friends. Rumors before the 5PM livestream suggested that Jay’s newfangled Tidal would be launched with exclusive content from many of those celebrity musicians. What we didn’t know was that all those celebs from the advertisements were Tidal stakeholders.
After a brief introduction from Roc Nation CIO Vania Schlogel that indicated Tidal is a partnership with Sprint, a startling array of superstar musicians were introduced as “owners” of the service: “Alicia Keys, Win Butler & Régine Chassagne, Beyoncé, Calvin Harris, Chris Martin, Daft Punk, Jack White, Jason Aldean, J. Cole, Jay Z, Kanye West, Deadmau5, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Usher.” Keys then took the stand and outlined Tidal’s goals as an artist-owned, artist-driven service. “Our intent is to preserve music’s importance in our lives,” Keys said. She quoted Friedrich Nietzsche: “Without music, life would be a mistake.” Then all the owners signed their declaration of intent as Radiohead’s dystopian “The National Anthem” played.
An infomercial followed promising high-quality audio and video, curated playlists, “unique experiences,” and especially an artist-controlled experience. “Right now they’re writing the story for us,” Jay said. “We need to write the story for ourselves.” He later added, “This thing was what everyone wanted and what everyone feared.” And that was that! No further information for now, and none of the exclusive music we were hoping for, just a lot of talk about brave revolutionaries starting a movement. In the meantime, Tidal free trials are available here, and subscriptions will run you $9.99/month for standard service and $19.99/month for hi-def audio.
Jay shared some other Tidal info with Billboard. The most pertinent info: “Each of the 16 participating artists are believed to have been gifted 3 percent equity in the company, with the remaining stakes owned by Jay Z, another investor and the record labels, according to executives familiar with Tidal’s financials.” Billboard’s report also cites Drake as one of the artists who worked out a deal with Tidal, but he wasn’t introduced as an owner at today’s event. And in a quote that makes Jay seem nervous about competing with Beats Music, he told Jimmy Iovine, “You guys are going to do great things with Beats, but you guys don’t have to… you know, I don’t have to lose in order for you guys to win and let’s just remember that.”