Jay-Z sells majority share of TIDAL for US$297 million
Rap entrepreneur Jay-Z has sold a majority share of his TIDAL streaming service for US$297 million.
It has been bought by US billionaire Jack Dorsey’s 12-year old mobile payments company, Square. Dorsey is also CEO at Twitter.
According to a media release, TIDAL remains independent within the Square set-up, and Jay-Z will join the Square board.
All of TIDAL’s other artist shareholders will remain co-owners after the deal closes in Q2 2021.
These currently include Alicia Keys, Arcade Fire’s Win Butler and Regine Chassagne, Beyoncé, Calvin Harris, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Daft Punk, Damian Marley, deadmau5, Indochine, J. Cole, Jack White, Jason Aldean, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, T.I. and Usher.
The buy-in “extends Square’s purpose of economic empowerment to a new vertical: musicians. Artists are entrepreneurs with a dream and deserve access to systems, tools, and financial freedom to reach those dreams at every stage in their career”.
Dorsey said: “It comes down to one simple idea: finding new ways for artists to support their work.
“New ideas are found at intersections, and we believe there’s a compelling one between music and the economy.
“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.”
Jay-Z added: “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.
“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.”
Square executive Jesse Dorogusker, who will head the streaming service in the interim, revealed Square will offer financial tools to help TIDAL’s artists collect revenue and manage their finances (as well as increase listener experience) in the same way Square helped its customers with different payment strategies.
“There are other tools they need to be successful and that we’re going to build for them,” he said.
Midway through last year, rumours were floating about a planned collaboration between Jay-Z and Dorsey when they went yachting around the Hamptons together.
TIDAL wasn’t just the topic of conversation: last month the two endowed a Bitcoin trust to support development in India and Africa.
TIDAL was launched in 2010 across Scandinavia by original owner Aspiro under its original name of WimP, offering both a standard and hi-fi audio package.
The platform’s former parent company Aspiro changed WimP’s name to TIDAL in March 2015 ahead of is acquisition by Project Panther Bidco, led by Jay Z.
Its idea of aiming at consumers who wanted high-end audio for their streaming was before its time, and a revolving door of executives saw it lose impetus to Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music.
TIDAL stopped broadcasting subscriber figures, but in 2018 it was supposed to have 3 million compared to Spotify’s 20 million at that time.
Accusations in Norway that TIDAL subscription figures were inflated led to a court case.
In 2017, Jay-Z sold 33% to Sprint for a reported US$200 million, valuing TIDAL at US$600 million.
This week, he bought back those shares (Sprint is now owned by T-Mobile) to sell to Square as part of the deal.
The pandemic has hit his businesses hard. The TIDAL sale came two weeks after the rap entrepreneur announced he was selling 50% of his champagne company, Armand de Brignac — aka Ace of Spades — to LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
When asked about his Roc Nation label and management company, Jay-Z replied: “I think Roc Nation will be fine.
“Like all entertainment companies, it will eventually recover. You just have to be smart and prudent at a time like this.”