After buying the streaming music service Aspiro in January, rap musician Jay Z has relaunched the service, called Tidal, as a high-fidelity music offering exclusive content that returns reasonable music royalties to the artists whose music it features.
A hugely popular rap artist, Jay Z, whose real name is Shawn Corey Carter, unveiled the relaunch of Tidal in an announcement in New York on March 30, along with a wide range of singers and musicians who were identified as the owners of the music service, according to an article in The New York Times. Attending with him for the announcement were music stars Rihanna, Kanye West, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Jack White, Alicia Keys, country singer Jason Aldean, Daft Punk and Beyoncé (who is married to Jay Z).
Jay Z paid $56 million for Tidal and its Aspiro mothership in January as a way for the rapper to help create a streaming music service that emphasizes quality sound for users while creating a venue where musicians can be paid equitably for their work, The Times article said. The majority of the new Tidal will be owned by participating musicians, who in the past had little control over their work or revenue streams.
The company apparently intends to take on the existing music streaming model of companies such as Spotify, which offer users free music in addition to options to subscribe to music subscriptions. Some musicians, such as superstar Taylor Swift, have fought some of the free music offerings, arguing that the artists are not being paid for their work. Swift pulled her own music from Spotify last year due to her objections.
Tidal offers more than 25 million song tracks, 75,000 music videos, and curated editorial articles, features and interviews on an ad-free platform for monthly subscriptions of $9.99 or $19.99, according to the service. The cheaper rate will provide sound quality rivaling that of other services, while the more expensive version will provide CD-quality sound. Unlike its competitors, the company will not offer a free version of the service.
Users can download the Tidal app from the company's Website or from Apple's iTunes app store or the Google Play store. The service offers high-quality sound recordings that feature lossless sound quality (FLAC/ALAC 44.1KHz /16 bit to 1411K bps) at a bit rate about four times that of competing music services for clear, bright and realistic sound playback, according to the company. Tidal service will be available in some 31 countries.
The question now is how will consumers and the music world react to yet another competitor in the streaming music space, especially one that isn't giving away any of its services in a world where rivals offer free versions.
Apple is expected in June to launch its own revamped Beats Music services to fight in the popular music marketplace with its own offering. Apple bought Beats Electronics in May 2014, which included Beats Music as well as the company's headphone business, according to an earlier eWEEK report. The purchase was made with $2.6 billion in cash and $400 million in Apple stock. Beats Electronics, founded by rapper Dr. Dre and pop music producer Jimmy Iovine, makes high-end headphones and also operates Beats Music, the popular streaming radio service.
Beats launched Beats Music, a $9.99-a-month streaming music service for iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices, in January 2014, according to a previous eWEEK report. Beats also made an exclusive deal with AT&T at the time, offering up to five family members with AT&T service unlimited music for a total of $14.99 a month. In addition to access to 20 million songs, the service features technology that creates custom playlists for users through personalization technology that rivals competitors.
In July 2014, Google acquired music streaming vendor Songza for an undisclosed price as Google moved to increase its competition with Apple and others for the music dollars of online users.