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 artists including Alicia Keys, Beyonce and Kanye West .
Fellow Tidal co-owners Calvin Harris and Chris Martin were also beamed in via video link, to announce the relaunch of the service.
Swedish technology company Aspiro, which owned Tidal, was bought out by Jay-Z last year for more than $50 million.
The new service’s strategy 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.
British band Take That struck a deal with Google to “window” their most recent album on the firm’s Play Music service for a month before its release last year.
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 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.”
Tidal’s key selling point is its “lossless” music streams, which the firm says mean a listening experience similar to that of CD quality but being streamed from the cloud.
This high definition audio, along with HD music videos, will be part of the site’s flagship $19.99 subscription offering – 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.
As part of the revamp, a $9.99 deal has also been confirmed, putting Tidal in line with rivals.
At the end of last year, the site had 500,000 paying users, while Spotify, which launched in 2006, has more than 45 million free users, and 15 million paying customers.
Last year, Taylor Swift withdrew her back catalogue from Spotify, saying she did not believe all music should be available for free.
The “window” model is likely to lead to a bidding war between the various streaming services, with each battling to secure artists exclusively.
Apple is also set to relaunch the Beats Music streaming service later this year, having bought the Dr Dre-owned music company last year.
I myself signed up for a 30-day free trial at Tidal.com this morning and i’ve been enjoying the Tidal experience so far. The selection of music is somewhat limited (although such previously hard-to-find-online artists as Neil Young are featured), but the layout and playback and terrific. I recommend everybody checks it out!