Jay-Z Sells Majority Stake In Tidal To Jack Dorsey’s Company Square, Joins The Board


Jay-Z Sells Majority Stake In Tidal To Jack Dorsey’s Company Square, Joins The Board


Last summer, Jay-Z and Beyoncé were spotted on a yacht in the Hamptons with Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter. Perhaps they were talking business. Last month Dorsey and Jay-Z announced they had partnered on a new Bitcoin endowment designed to develop the currency in India and Africa. And today Dorsey announced that Square, his financial services company, has acquired a majority share of Tidal from Jay-Z for $297 million.

Square began by providing the gadget that allowed vendors to swipe credit cards on their smartphones. Its operations have since expanded to include Cash App and, as of yesterday, its own bank. Tidal, meanwhile, is the high-definition music streaming service Jay launched in 2015 with much fanfare and an all-star cast of stakeholders including Kanye West, Rihanna, Arcade Fire, Daft Punk, Madonna, Jack White, Chris Martin, Alicia Keys, Jason Aldean, and more.

At the time, the pitch was that artist-owned service would prioritize the needs of artists, as opposed to Spotify, Apple, and the rest, in part by paying out higher royalty rates than its competitors and offering higher sound quality — not to mention exclusive content from the celebrity owners and other artists, such as Beyoncé’s 2016 visual album Lemonade and various concert livestreams from Jay-Z and others. But despite a faithful core of users, Tidal has struggled to compete in the increasingly crowded streaming market.

Now, the pitch has evolved to include Square’s financial tools as a way of helping artists profit from their work. As part of the deal, Jay-Z is joining Square’s board and, per Dorsey, will “now help lead our entire company, including Seller and the Cash App, as soon as the deal closes.” The artist stakeholders maintain their equity in the company in a secondary capacity. “I said from the beginning that TIDAL was about more than just streaming music, and six years later, it has remained a platform that supports artists at every point in their careers,” Jay-Z wrote on Twitter. “Artists deserve better tools to assist them in their creative journey.”

Jay added, “Jack is one of the greatest minds of our times, and our many discussions about TIDAL’s endless possibilities have made me even more inspired about its future. This shared vision makes me even more excited to join the Square board. This partnership will be a game-changer for many. I look forward to all this new chapter has to offer!”

“Square is acquiring a majority ownership stake in TIDAL through a new joint venture, with the original artists becoming the second largest group of shareholders, and JAY-Z joining the Square board,” Dorsey wrote in a lengthier Twitter thread. “Why would a music streaming company and a financial services company join forces?! It comes down to a simple idea: finding new ways for artists to support their work. New ideas are found at the intersections, and we believe there’s a compelling one between music and the economy. Making the economy work for artists is similar to what Square has done for sellers.”

Dorsey’s statement continues:

Square started 12 years ago by giving small sellers a simple tool in order to participate more fully in the economy and grow. We did the same for individuals with Cash App, which now enables a comprehensive set of financial services for folks who weren’t able to access it before. TIDAL started with the idea of honoring artists by being artist-owned and led, focused on an uncompromised experience of the art. It’s refreshing and right.

The vision only grows stronger as it’s matched with more powerful tools for artists, inclusive of new ways of getting paid. Given what Square has been able to do for sellers of all sizes and individuals through Cash App, we believe we can now work for artists to see the same success for them, and us. We’re going to start small and focus on the most critical needs of artists and growing their fanbases.

Square created ecosystems of tools for sellers & individuals, and we’ll do the same for artists. We’ll work on entirely new listening experiences to bring fans closer together, simple integrations for merch sales, modern collaboration tools, and new complementary revenue streams.

To all of TIDAL’s current listeners and fans: THANK YOU for your loyalty and commitment to artists and their work. TIDAL will continue to be the best home for music, musicians, and culture. Our commitment to you is to constantly listen, learn, and work to make a service you love.

I’m grateful for Jay’s vision, wisdom, and leadership. I knew TIDAL was something special as soon as I experienced it, and I’m inspired to work with him. He’ll now help lead our entire company, including Seller and the Cash App, as soon as the deal closes.

more from News