Back in February, Jay-Z put up $56mMillion to acquire a subscription-only music streaming service. Now under new-management, Tidal launches with the backing of High-Definition, in-demand music from names like Beyonce (of course), Kanye West, Taylor Swift, Daft Punk, Madonna and others. Can Jay-Z take Tidal to the same heights as Spotify as well as propel his brand into the billionaire bracket?
This week, it seemed as the heaviest of hitters in the music industry joined Jay-Z on stage to officially announce Tidal, the newest music streaming service that’s available via the web, iOS, Android, and popular music streaming devices like Sonos. Nikki Minaj, Usher, Rihanna, Alicia Keys and others all took to the stage as equal partners in TIDAL, a product of Swedish company Aspiro, in which Jay-Z has a major steak in as the result of a successful acquisition by Project Panther Bidco company for $56 Million in cash.
Why invest in a music-streaming service you ask? According to an interview with Billboard, Jay-Z stated “We didn’t like the direction music was going and thought maybe we could get in and strike an honest blow and if the very least we did was make people wake up and try to improve the free-versus-paid system, and promote fair trade, then it would be a win for us anyway.”
Artists have been complaining for years that music streaming services like Spotify have put a dent in artist’s pockets (cue the world’s smallest violin). Tidal wants to put the control of the music back into the hands of the artist, and pay out more to artist than its competitors.
Is there room at the music-streaming table?
Mo’ money for their music is what Jay-Z and his compadres seem to gain from releasing their music on Tidal before its competitors. What do consumers stand to gain from yet another music streaming service, a field already dominated by Spotify and Beats Music? Well, Tidal offers lossless high fidelity (High-Definition in laymen’s terms) music with 25 million tracks in its library. Additionally, Tidal will also bring 75,00 music videos, and articles from music journalist, hopefully making it more of a destination for audiophiles and ultra music heads, rather just a service where you can stream music for a monthly fee.
It would also make since that Jay-Z would use his connections to get his music friends to release their music via Tidal first, before making it available on other services. If Tidal can ink temporarily exclusive deals with top music artists, hopefully that will make entice consumers to side with Tidal when it comes to the latest and greatest music.
While there is a $9.99 standard-definition subscription option, the Tidal is banking on the idea that music fans care about audio quality and hope they are willing to pay a premium. To get its high-def music, expect to pay $19.99/month, double what Spotify charges with years in game, a client base 15 million paying subscribers, and a music catalog of 30 million songs. While I agree with Jigga that music quality is less of a priority to the majority of people who just want music to listen to during their daily commute, the question are people willing to pay double for better music?
Will becoming a tech investor be Jay Z’s 100th ‘Problem?’
Aspiro is a publicly traded technology company in Sweden that also owns WiMP (the technology that Tidal is built on). That means Jay-Z is a major investor in the tech sector. He follows the steps of names like will.i.am, MC Hammer, Chamilionaire and other entertainers looking expand on their brand and ride the lucrative tech wave as a venture capitalist. As a techie, I welcome any artist or entertainer looking to invest in tech.
Honestly, we need more of our entertainers show interest in order to make tech cool, so more of our kids get interested in STEM as a profession and see it as a viable option to, well…music. Additionally, we don’t need any more entertainers opening yet another clothing, shoe, or liquor line. Hopefully Jay-Z getting into tech will spur a new trend among our entertainers looking for positive ways to spend their millions?
Time will tell if Tidal will gain enough gain coverts from competitors to become a serious player in the music-streaming arena and subsequently make Jay-Z a billionaire (he’s currently worth and estimated $520 Million). They say, “Competition is always good for the consumer.”
At the very least, if Tidal does make some waves (see what I did there?) it will force Spotify, Beats Music and others to offer a High-definition option which in the end, will give consumers more options and ramp up the overall quality of music streamed over the web…Just be sure to keep an eye on your mobile data amounts streaming all that high-end music.