Skip to main content

Jay-Z calls in a who’s who of artists to back Tidal as ‘artist-owned’ music service

tidal launch newyork jayz kanye
Everett Collection /

Tidal, the hi-fi streaming service recently acquired by Jay-Z for $56 million, launched yesterday with a star-studded press conference in New York City. In total, 18 high profile artists — from Kanye West and Rihanna to Daft Punk, Usher and Chris Martin (of Coldplay) — came together to celebrate the first ‘artist-owned’ music streaming service.

“Tonight is still the beginning of an exciting path ahead,” Roc Nation’s chief investment officer Vania Schlogel said. “Tidal is a global and rapidly expanding streaming platform. We are here today to offer something different: a platform owned by artists, as dynamic as the artists behind it.” Billboard noted that each of the artist ‘owners’ of Tidal were offered a 3 percent stake in the company.

Breaking into the streaming market could be difficult for Tidal. The service’s main selling point is hi-fidelity audio, an extensive video library and — possibly — better payouts to artists. Tidal currently has 540,000 paid subscribers compared to Spotify’s 15 million and Deezer’s 6 million.

Most prominent in the conference, though, was the focus on music celebrities. Singer Alicia Keys spoke the longest, touting the unquantifiable nature of music (and quoting Nietsche). “Music is so powerful, and that is what Tidal will be. A place for connection between artists and fans, where we will deliver exclusive experiences that cannot be found anywhere else… a sound business enterprise that promotes the health and sustainability of our art and our industry around the world.”

While Jay-Z didn’t speak at the press conference, Billboard released an exclusive interview with him on his vision for the new streaming service at the end of the event. “Will artists make more money? Even if it means less profit for our bottom line, absolutely. That’s easy for us,” said Jay-Z. “We can do that. Less profit for our bottom line, more money for the artist; fantastic. Let’s do that today.”

What remains to be seen is whether CD-quality streaming audio has enough appeal to convince a broad spectrum of music fans to pull the trigger on a $20/month subscription fee. Tidal does offer a $10 option which streams music at a quality more in line with Spotify’s 320kbps, but then, why not just go with Spotify in the first place?

Perhaps that’s why Tidal is leaning so heavily on artist endorsements. One can’t help wonder if those artists who are able to might follow in Taylor Swift’s footsteps by pulling their content from other streaming services for a Tidal exclusive. If Tidal builds enough momentum with artists, it could potentially increase its appeal with a demographic outside those simply seeking higher quality  — that may be exactly what Tidal needs to make big waves in an already competitive market.

Editors' Recommendations

Chris Leo Palermino
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Chris Leo Palermino is a music, tech, business, and culture journalist based between New York and Boston. He also contributes…
Plex amps up its music offerings with tighter integration with Tidal
plex tidal

If you're a movie and TV junkie, we're betting that the Plex media server platform needs no introduction. For years now, it has been the go-to choice for people who want total control over their media library, and the ability to watch that content on every conceivable device.

But lately, Plex has been getting a lot more serious about other kinds of media as well. It has added podcasts, a capable photo organizer and even a live TV plus DVR option. Last year, the company augmented its music chops in a big way by adding Tidal to its list of supported services. On Friday, April 26, the company announced that integration was expanding even further, including a new "Artist TV" feature that adds music videos to artists' profiles and lets users fill in missing records in their Plex library using Tidal.

Read more
This streaming music service pays artists in Bitcoin, plants trees if you listen
honor 10 review huawei photo sample trees

It sounds like the ultimate tongue-in-cheek sales pitch to target millennials: An environmentally friendly streaming music service that pays artists in Bitcoin, and plants trees in exchange for streams from customers. All you need are references to vaping and craft ale, and you’d have a comprehensive 20-something hipster bingo card.

In fact, it’s a serious new venture by streaming music upstart Feedbands that targets indie musicians. In an attention-grabbing effort to carve out a niche in the shadow of giants like Spotify and Apple Music, it’s come up with a musician-friendly way to generate streaming royalties that are beneficial to artists and listeners alike -- while maybe even helping save the planet in the process.

Read more
iPhone owners can finally hear the highest-quality streaming music on Tidal
tidal holiday preview apple deal 0001

If you are an iPhone or iPad owner with a Tidal subscription, the sound of your favorite albums may be about to get that much sweeter. Tidal, the artist-owned streaming service that made a name for itself as the biggest proponent of super high-quality streaming audio, finally made its Masters Quality Authenticated tier -- the highest possible audio resolution it offers -- available for iOS users.

Masters Quality Authenticated sound, a codec that allows Tidal to compress audio to smaller file sizes while retaining extremely high fidelity, comes in partnership with several major labels, and allows the streaming company access to high bit-rate versions of the labels' libraries, often equating to even higher quality audio than fans could get on CD. The new high-quality streaming tier makes it to iOS just a few months after it made it to Android, which began streaming MQA audio to Tidal subscribers in January.

Read more