Sophia Elias
April 01, 2015 6:00 am

Move over, Spotify, there’s a new streaming service in town and it’s running on a whole lotta star power.

In case you missed it, rapper Jay-Z announced plans for his “artist owned” music streaming service Tidal yesterday. During the news conference, Jay-Z was joined on stage by fellow Tidal owners Beyoncé, Rihanna, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Jack White, Kanye West, Daft Punk, country artist Jason Aldean, and members of Arcade Fire.

So, what spurred this Tidal business venture? Earlier this month, Jay Z acquired 90% of the Swedish streaming service, Aspiro. But the company acquisition isn’t what set Jay’s big endeavor into motion — at least not entirely. In fact, Jay’s got quite a few noble motives for bringing Tidal the super competitive streaming market:

Tidal comes at a time where streaming services are more controversial than ever
Although streaming services have become the industry’s fastest-growing revenue source, they’ve been a point of contention in terms of their business ethics with artists. If you remember back to November, Taylor Swift pulled her music from Spotify due to its “freemium model.”

Swift told Time:

Jay Z spoke to this issue, saying, “The challenge is to get everyone to respect music again, to recognize its value. Music is $6 but no one wants to pay for music. . . If you want to hear the most beautiful song, then support the artist.” And, support the artist, he did. Rather than simply making Tidal into a platform for artists to thrive, he’s brought them on as shareholders of the company.

The “artist owned” element might prove to be an incentive for consumers
Aside from putting the power back in the hands of artists, this “artist owned” business model presents unique opportunities for artists to offer their music in new and exciting ways. According to the New York Times, an anonymous Tidal executive claimed that “participating artists were being granted shares in exchange for their good-faith efforts to supply exclusive content.” While the prospect of “exclusive content” certainly sounds sexy, we’re more excited by the idea of artists working in good-faith to keep fans and other Tidal users satisfied.

There will be two different versions
Rather than offering a free version like Spotify, Tidal will offer two subscription options: a $10/month subscription for MP3 quality audio, or a $20/month subscription for CD quality audio. Much like other streaming services, a small royalty will be paid each time a song is played.

In spite of the competitive market, Tidal has the opportunity to occupy a unique niche, simply due to its artist-first principle. Whether or not this approach will be enough to keep Tidal afloat remains to be seen. Jay Z doesn’t seem to be sweating it, though. When asked about his stiff competitors, he told the Times, “I just want to be an alternative. They don’t have to lose for me to win.”

If you’re interested in checking out the music service for yourself, visit Tidal’s official website, here.

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