Jay Z has joined forces with an army of music stars to unveil Tidal, a revamped music service that is set to challenge Spotify.
The rapper-turned-businessman was joined on stage at a launch event in New York by 13 co-artists and co-owners including Alicia Keys, Beyonce and Kanye West. Calvin Harris and Chris Martin were also beamed in via video link, to announce the relaunch of the service.
Check out the video to find out more.
What is Tidal?
Tidal is a music streaming service. This means instead of buying and owning music, like you do it you download tracks from iTunes or the Google Music Store, you pay a subscription to effectively rent it. So you can listen to it on your devices.
Tidal is not a new service, Swedish technology company Aspiro, which owned Tidal, was bought out by Jay Z last year for more than 50 million US dollars (£33.8 million).
Now the services has been revamped, with a strategy that will include encouraging artists to lobby their record labels to let them "window" new releases for a minimum of a week, making them exclusive to Tidal for that time.
Google Play Music British band Take That struck a deal with Google to "window" its most recent album on the firm's Play Music service for a month before its release last year.
The "window" model is likely to lead to a bidding war between the various streaming services, with each battling to secure artists exclusively.
Why are the artists doing this?
Jay Z told music website Billboard: "We didn't like the direction music was going and thought maybe we could get in and strike an honest blow. Will artists make more money? Even if it means less profit for our bottom line, absolutely. That's easy for us. We can do that. Less profit for our bottom line, more money for the artist. Fantastic."
The team of Tidal owners vowed to re-establish the value of music with the high-definition streaming service and create a haven for artists and fans together, to preserve the music industry.
Alicia Keys said on stage: "Jimi Hendrix once said 'Music doesn't lie, if there is something to be changed in the world, it can only be done through music'.
"How many times music has changed the world and shaped our culture? How many times it personally picked you up and reminded you can do it again?
"We come together before you on this day with one voice in unity, in the hopes that today will be that moment in time that will forever change music in history."
Billboard reports each member has equity in the company, according to Jay Z: “Founding members all got the same equity, and now we have a second round and everyone gets the same in that one as well, but it’s not as large as the first tier. We want to keep it going. We want to make this thing successful and then create another round and another round.”
How does it differ from other streaming services?
Jay-Z has amassed an impressive list of co-owners, and the platform will offer exclusive material from the co-owners such as Madonna and Kanye West and others in the future.
Tidal's other key selling point is its "lossless" music streams. It supports FLAC/ALAC, which the firm says mean a listening experience similar to that of CD quality but being streamed from the cloud.
It also supports HD music videos, includes ‘curated editorial.’ Subscribers get access to exclusive content such as songs, videos and rough tracks.
How much will Tidal cost?
Tidal has two tiers:
- Tidal Premium: £9.99 a month Standard quality audio, HD music videos, curated editorial.
- Tidal HiFi £19.99 a month: Lossless High Fidelity audio and HD music videos. It’s double the amount of the highest Spotify monthly costing.
Tidal currently has more than 25 million tracks in its music library, as well as 75,000 music videos. The site will also include interviews and features from artists.
It works on web browsers and in desktop players, along with iOS and Android apps.
The Tidal app is also available through music streaming services such as Sonos.
What are the alternatives?
Tidal’s main rival is Spotify, which launched in 2006, has more than 45 million free users, and 15 million paying customers. At the end of last year Tidal had 500,000 paying users.
Last year, Taylor Swift withdrew her back catalogue from Spotify, saying she did not believe all music should be available for free.
Apple is also set to re-launch the Beats Music streaming service later this year, having bought the Dr Dre-owned music company last year.
Does Tidal matter?
Tidal has been criticised by some for in-effect making a group of very rich artists richer, certainly the launch event with phrases such as “Beginning of the new world” seem a bit overblown.
These artists can end world hunger in a day but instead they make an app to get richer 😒 #TIDALforALL— Eric Amer (@EricAmer) March 31, 2015
However smaller artists aren’t making a great money from Spotify, and if Tidal is a success with its paid-for structure and profit-sharing, it could help them.
Going forward, it could be that artists out of contract with their record labels, only release through Tidal, although it’s unlikely they’ll cut out artists any time soon.
As for whether Tidal matters to you, it really depends how you listen to music. If you are a music aficionado who wants the best quality audio tracks, then it’s worth considering, especially if you are a fan of any of the artists.
But many people don’t want to pay for these music – whether that’s right or wrong, casual listeners are happy streaming from YouTube or with Spotify’s free service.
Additional reporting by Hannah Bouckley