Jay Z Relaunches Tidal with a Parade of Celebrity Artists

Jay Z claims that he is starting a revolution in streaming music with his recent purchase of the Tidal service. Fellow “owner” musicians turned their social media profile pictures to blue (Tidal’s brand color) with the hashtag #tidalforall to help create buzz for a press conference held March 30. While there was much to do about how this is the first artist-owned streaming music service, it seems they have quickly forgotten Dr. Dre and Beats Music.

At the press conference, a list of musicians were introduced as owners. Alicia Keyes, Madonna, Calvin Harris, Chris Martin of Coldplay, Daft Punk, Jack White, country singer Jason Aldean, J. Cole, Kanye West, Deadmau5, Nicki Manaj, Rihanna, Usher, Arcade Fire’s Win Buttler, and Regine Chassagne paraded onstage but don’t actually own Tidal.

Jay Z bought Tidal in January from Swedish company Aspiro for a reported $56 million. The musicians joining him are first tier stakeholders in the company who have all been offered the same equity in the company. A second tier will be offered to other bands, and so forth. Taylor Swift, who had brought attention to the poor royalty structure of streaming services when she pulled her music from the free Spotify service, was quick to announce that her albums and songs would be available on Tidal.

The press conference was filled with quotes from Nietzsche about the importance of music delivered by Alicia Keyes, not Jay Z, but included few details. It is hinted that Tidal will have exclusive music that will not be available on other services.

At the same time that the artists were heralding the art of music, it was announced that there will be a non-high-resolution music tier offered for $9.99 per month. Full lossless music is still available at the $19.99 per month and there will be no free streaming.

In an interview with billboard.com, Jay Z explained that he will offer artistic freedom to musicians, “Artists come here and start making songs 18 minutes long, or whatever. I know this is going to sound crazy, but maybe they start attempting to make “Like a Rolling Stone,” you know, a song that doesn’t have a recognizable hook, but is still considered one of the greatest songs of all time, the freedom that this platform will allow art to flourish here. And we’re encouraging people to put it in any format they like. It doesn't have to be three minutes and 30 seconds. What if it’s a minute and 17, what if it’s 11; you know, just break format. What if it’s just four minutes of just music and then you start rapping?”

It’s uncertain how Jay Z’s revolutionary plan will effect the streaming music landscape. It is unlikely that musicians will abandon other services where free play of their music often leads to album sales. But it is certainly a good way to start the conversation so both music fans and the artists win.

As Jay Z told Billboard about the effect on other streaming services, “When the tide rises, all the boats rise. That’s the first thing I said to the group was, ‘If for nothing else, then we just caused people to look inside their organization and say, ‘Yeah, let’s work on this, let’s work on audio, and let’s work on a pay system.”