Tidal
Jay-Z and Jack Dorsey. Image source: Jack Dorsey's Twitter Page

Square, the digital payment company, run by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, has bought Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter’s streaming platform Tidal. As part of the transaction, Jay-Z will move to Square’s board of directors.

Square is paying $297 million (R4,5 billion) in cash and stock for a “significant majority ownership stake”, and existing artist shareholders will be the remaining stakeholders.

Tidal will operate independently alongside Square’s other ventures.

Jay-z bought Tidal for $56 million (R852 million) in 2015 and announced plans to turn it into the first artist-owned streaming service, following a star-studded launch featuring Madonna, Daft Punk, Kanye West and more.

Announcing the news on Twitter, Dorsey said: “It comes down to a simple idea: finding new ways for artists to support their work. New ideas are found at the intersections, and we believe there’s a compelling one between music and the economy. Making the economy work for artists is similar to what Square has done for sellers.”

Dorsey said the partnership would see Square deliver more advanced tools for artists, including “new listening experiences to bring fans closer together, simple integrations for merch sales, modern collaboration tools, and new complementary revenue streams”.

He added: “I knew TIDAL was something special as soon as I experienced it, and it will continue to be the best home for music, musicians, and culture.”

Tidal was founded in Norway in 2014 before being bought by a consortium of artists led by Jay-Z the following year for $56 million. Artist-owners included Coldplay, Rihanna, Daft Punk, and Madonna.

Tidal is the only music service built by artists for artists—which is now more critical than ever as consumers look for authentic digital connections with their favourite artists. It offers the premier listening experience, with superior sound quality and an extensive catalogue of more than 70 million songs and 250,000 high-quality videos.

Tidal puts the fan experience at the centre of every decision, providing artists direct access to their audience and allowing fans deeper connections to their favourite artists through original, exclusive, and curated content and events. TIDAL has a global presence with listeners in more than 56 countries and relationships with more than 100 labels and distributors.

The new owners positioned Tidal in opposition to big tech’s streaming services, promising fans high-quality audio and exclusive content.

“I said from the beginning that Tidal was about more than just streaming music, and six years later, it has remained a platform that supports artists at every point in their careers,” said Jay-Z in a press statement.

“Artists deserve better tools to assist them in their creative journey. Jack and I have had many discussions about Tidal’s endless possibilities that have made me even more inspired about its future. This shared vision makes me even more excited to join the Square board. This partnership will be a game-changer for many. I look forward to all this new chapter has to offer!”

The acquisition extends Square’s purpose of economic empowerment to a new vertical: musicians.

Square has helped millions of businesses start, run, and grow by providing them with the tools needed for success.

With Cash App, Square has made financial services more relatable and accessible to millions of customers, many of whom have been historically overlooked and underserved.

Square sees an opportunity to leverage those learnings to help musicians find new ways to support their work and make better decisions through Tidal.

“TIDAL sets a high standard for supporting artists, capturing music culture, and delivering the best audio quality to fans,” said Jesse Dorogusker, a Square executive who will serve as interim leader of Tidal upon the closing of the transaction.

“Square has also set a high standard for building elegant, accessible, and fair tools for sellers and individuals to economically empower them. Together, Tidal and Square will be music-obsessed and artist-focused while we explore new artist tools, listener experiences, and access to financial systems that help artists be successful.”

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