Jay-Z challenges Spotify with Tidal music service

Lucas Shaw
Bloomberg News
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Rapper Jay-Z unveiled a new version of Tidal, the music-streaming service he acquired this year, using his industry ties to take on Spotify Ltd., the leader in a crowded field.

Jay-Z teamed with his wife, singer Beyonce Knowles, and the Barbadian pop star Rihanna for a star-studded event in New York that underscored the artist-friendly approach of Tidal, part of the Swedish company Aspiro he bought for $56 million in January. Tidal, which offers a $19.99-a-month high-fidelity service, added a standard-quality version starting at $9.99-a-month for U.S. users on Monday with videos and editorial content.

Tidal, which doesn’t offer free streaming, will have cool on its side as it mounts a challenge to Spotify and the new service that Apple Inc.’s Beats Music is working on. The rock band Arcade Fire and rapper Nicki Minaj were among the acts who promoted Tidal on social media in the hours leading up to the event. Kanye West and Coldplay colored their social-media profiles a shade of blue and urged fans to do the same. Minaj and Coldplay are represented by Jay-Z’s management company, Roc Nation.

Many in the music industry have compared Tidal to United Artists, the film studio founded by Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Mary Pickford. More than a dozen artists, including Alicia Keys, Jack White, Usher, West and Daft Punk were introduced as owners of the company.

Jay-Z, born Shawn Carter, is pursuing exclusive deals with artists, some of whom have bemoaned the thin payments they receive from rival streaming services, according to senior record label executives with knowledge of the discussions.

Tidal has two price points for each of its tiers. The one with higher sound quality costs $19.99 a month on desktop computers and $25.99 on mobile devices. The standard version is available for $9.99 a month on desktop and $12.99 for mobile. The standard version was already on sale in some European markets.

Tidal says on its website that it has 25 million tracks and 75,000 music videos. Acts include Rihanna, Madonna and the Rolling Stones, as well as several albums from Taylor Swift, who removed her back catalog from Spotify in a dispute last fall. It doesn’t have her most recent album, “1989.”

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