We are still light on details, but now we know a bit more about Tidal, the high-defintion music streaming service that relaunched today, including a long list of musician-shareholders in the service and the participation of Softbank.
Jay Z may be the name we’ve heard in connection with Tidal’s new ownership, but today, the company unveiled a lineup of 17 other famous musicians that are also a part of the venture as co-owners: Alicia Keys, Calvin Harris, Win Butler and Régine Chassagne from Arcade fire, Chris Martin from Coldplay, Beyonce, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter from Daft Punk, Jack White, J. Cole, Jason Aldean, Kanye West, Deadmaus, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna and Usher.
And they may not be the only ones. In her opening remarks during a launch event in New York, Vania Schlogel — an executive at Aspiro, the parent company of Tidal — confirmed that the music service will be partnering with Sprint and Sprint’s owner, Softbank. But, in keeping with the light-detail theme, she did not provide any details explaining how. Separately, the NY Post reports that Softbank may be partly bankrolling the service.
We are trying to get more details about Softbank’s and Sprint’s involvement.
As we pointed out earlier today, Tidal is moving into the market against other very strong gravitational forces. It will compete with Spotify, which has 15 million paying users, and 60 million overall; Beats, with all the might of Apple behind it; and many more. Tidal today has less than 40,000 paying subscribers. The company currently has no freemium tier — only two options for users, a $9.99/month “premium” standard definition service and a high-def service at $19.99/month.
Will a roster of big-name artists and a lot of big ideas be enough? Right now it’s too early to tell. The feeling that the brief event tried to convey today most of all was artists trying to take back the show from the technologies and others in the industry that have upstaged them. Alicia Keys, who did all of the talking on behalf of the artists, sketched out the vision like this:
“Our mission goes beyond commerce and technology,” she said. “Music is the world’s first true universal language. There’s not a soul living who can deny its impact.”
Confirming our earlier report, she also noted there will be an emphasis on making the experience one-of-a-kind. She described Tidal as “a place for connection between artists and fans where we will deliver exclusive experiences. Tidal is cultivating a sound business enterprise that promotes sustainability in our world.”
Later, a video of the musician co-owners brainstorming in a “town-hall” style event pointed to a bit more of the tension and frustration that some musicians feel at the state of play today. (A shortened version is here.)
“They see us as a product,” the shorter of the helmeted Daft Punk duo said in his French-accented clip, referring to the current music streaming services in the market.
“This is about bringing the artist back into this. This is not about technology,” Madonna said flatly.
“We’re like the Avengers!” someone else noted in the voiceover.
“They are writing the story for us we need to write the story for ourselves,” said Jay Z. “If these artists can sit in a room together, the game changes forever.”
This is the “declaration” that the artists signed on stage today:
Throughout history, every movement began with a few individuals banding together with a shared vision – a vision to change the status quo.
That vision came to life with a first step. Our first step begins today through the platform TIDAL.
TIDAL is an artist majority owned company with a mission to reestablish the value of music and protect the sustainability of the music industry rooted in creativity and expression.
As part of our vision to introduce change to the current system, we will continue expanding this platform into an all-encompassing destination in the coming months. We are working diligently everyday to enhance the overall service.
Today, the site incorporates high quality sound, video and exclusive editorial, but there are more features on the way. In time, TIDAL will not just be a streaming service but an immersive platform with enhanced experiences.
With TIDAL we are making a commitment to build a platform that reflects ideas contributed directly from artists, providing an enriched experience. Music presented and heard the way the artists intended.
We want our mission with TIDAL to spark conversation and lay a foundation for tomorrow’sburgeoning stars.
Our movement is being led by a few who are inviting all to band together for a common cause, a movement to change the status quo.
Today marks the next step.