TIDAL Announces Million Dollar Grant for New Talent in Detroit

Get ready Detroit. Dust off your guitar, warm up those vocal chords. No, American Idol isn’t holding auditions. The music streaming service TIDAL is now accepting applications for a $1 million grant program designed to discover and develop new musical talent in Detroit.

TIDAL might not be as big as Apple Music or Spotify, but backed by Jay-Z and other celebrities, the company is gaining in popularity as the streaming service that supports and encourages musicians. Today, TIDAL announced an iOS app for playing MQA-encoded Master Quality files on Apple devices. To add to the hype, the company has launched the TIDAL Unplugged Detroit Artist Grant Program — or "TIDAL Unplugged" — an endowment with up to $1 million for aspiring musicians.

Seeded with money donated by venture capitalists Mark Lampert and Robert Nelsen, the program is kicking off in Detroit where Lampert's grandfather got his start in music; entrants must be at least 13 years old and a resident of Detroit.

Entries are being accepted at TIDAL.com/Unplugged through April 9th. Auditions are encouraged to be acoustic — a cappella with as little digital enhancement as possible.

In selecting a recipient of the endowment, TIDAL hasn’t given many guidelines as to what they’re looking for, except to say: “As music is art, there is no exact science to determine when we will feel something, but we will know it when we hear that 'it' factor. We listen for creativity, originality, catchiness, and overall infectiousness of a song or the artist’s performance of a particular song.”

The grant isn’t a winner-take-all contest where the selected artist takes a world cruise with the proceeds. After the subjective selection process, the recipient of the grant will receive a variety of benefits, including a monthly stipend, access to studio time, equipment and mentorship, promotional support on TIDAL Rising, and a concert sometime in November.

The program will cover all expenses to allow the winning artist to focus his or her energy on developing as a musician. The program hopes to develop and produce four tracks from the artist — and it’s important to note that the artist retains all ownership of their songs.

“We recognize the power of streaming and the importance of supporting and encouraging emerging musicians,” said Jason Kpana, TIDAL's SVP of artist relations. “Being able to expand the program to support musicians in an authentic and substantial way is truly an honor.”

In a statement sent to Crain’s Detroit, TIDAL said: "As the program is in a pilot phase, we'll be waiting for artist selection to identify grant amounts, but we can confirm that the full grant will exclusively support the Detroit program. In reviewing submissions, we are looking for promising talent that can benefit from both financial assistance and our expert mentor team. We'd love to help as many artists as we can and will be taking the time to explore the Detroit music community to identify program participants."

This is a fabulous opportunity for aspiring musicians to be able to pursue their passion. We can only hope that TIDAL will make audition submissions available to the public. You have to admit — half the fun of American Idol is watching train-wreck auditions.

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