Rap­per Jay Z leads stars in Ti­dal stream­ing ser­vice

The China Post - - ARTS - BY SHAUN TAN­DON

Rap mogul Jay Z on Mon­day launched the re­branded Ti­dal mu­sic stream­ing ser­vice with ma­jor star back­ing, hop­ing to shake up the grow­ing in­dus­try through high sound qual­ity and artist con­trol.

With veiled swipes at stream­ing leader Spo­tify, Jay Z brought out mu­si­cians in­clud­ing Madonna, Kanye West and the masked elec­tronic duo Daft Punk, who will all be eq­uity part­ners in the new Ti­dal.

Jay Z ear­lier this year bought Ti­dal, which mar­kets it­self to au­dio­philes, by spend­ing US$56 mil­lion for its Swedish-listed par­ent com­pany Aspiro.

At the an­nounce­ment in New York, singer Ali­cia Keys hinted that some mu­si­cians could choose to re­lease ma­te­rial ex­clu­sively or early on the artist-owned ser­vice.

Ti­dal re­leased a pro­mo­tional video in which mu­si­cians ac­cused un­named stream­ing com­pa­nies of treat­ing them as mere com­mer­cial prod­ucts.

Other artists who will be share­own­ers in Ti­dal — with the ex­act fi­nan­cial de­tails not dis­closed — in­clude Jay Z’s wife Bey­once, rocker Jack White, Cold­play’s Chris Martin, rap­per Nicki Mi­naj and R&B singer Ri­hanna.

Ti­dal said it was also work­ing on the re­launch with Sprint, one of the ma­jor U.S. cel­lu­lar providers, which is owned by Ja­pan’s Softbank.

The artists signed a dec­la­ra­tion to the sounds of Ra­dio­head, the Bri­tish ex­per­i­men­tal rock­ers who along with Tay­lor Swift have ac­cused Spo­tify of de­valu­ing mu­sic through mea­ger pay­outs to artists.

Spo­tify has re­jected the ac­cu­sa­tions, say­ing that it is a rare source of growth in mu­sic sales and has paid out US$2 bil­lion to­ward artists since 2007.

Stream­ing — which al­lows users to play un­lim­ited on-de­mand mu­sic on­line — has quickly shaken up the in­dus­try, nar­rowly edg­ing out CD sales in rev­enues last year in the United States.

Spo­tify, also from Swe­den, says it has 60 mil­lion users with 15 mil­lion of them pay­ing — usu­ally US$9.99 a month.

Un­like Spo­tify, Ti­dal does not of­fer a free ser­vice and is gen­er­ally twice as ex­pen­sive, at US$19.99 a month, although for the re­launch, it also of­fered a more ba­sic US$9.99 ser­vice.

Ti­dal will also try to dis­tin­guish it­self through am­ple videos.

More Free­dom For Artists?

Jay Z did not speak at the an­nounce­ment, which came af­ter hours of pro­mo­tion for the re­launch on so­cial me­dia.

But he gave an in­ter­view to in­dus­try jour­nal Bill­board in which he billed Ti­dal as a new way for artists to ex­per­i­ment with form.

He ac­knowl­edged that some mu­sic la­bels were ner­vous about the project but de­scribed it more as a “record store” than a new record com­pany.

Spo­tify al­ready has a range of ri­vals in­clud­ing U.S.-based Rhap­sody and Google Play.

Paris-based Deezer, which is strong in Europe, last year en­tered the United States as a high­end-only ser­vice which, like Ti­dal, uses FLAC rather than more com­mon MP3 files.

Ap­ple — which pi­o­neered dig­i­tal mu­sic through iTunes in 2001 — has sought to ex­pand in stream­ing as the mar­ket shifts away from per­ma­nent down­loads.

Ap­ple bought rap mogul Dr. Dre’s Beats and is re­port­edly plan­ning an en­tirely new stream­ing ser­vice.

Ti­dal en­tered the United States late last year and op­er­ates in 31 coun­tries, with six more to come this year in­clud­ing Australia and Ger­many. Be­fore Jay Z’s pur­chase, Aspiro said it had 512,000 pay­ing users for Ti­dal and sis­ter ser­vice WiMP.

In this photo taken on Oct. 27, 2009 South African co­me­dian Trevor Noah is pho­tographed dur­ing an in­ter­view.

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