Jay-Z relaunches Tidal with superstar power #TIDALforALL


“Artists are not products”. “To re-establish the value of music”. “Tidal puts the power back into the artists’ hands”. “Better experience for both fans and artists”“Beginning of a whole new era”.

Those are direct quotes from the re-launch of Tidal, re-branded as “the first artist-owned music entertainment platform”, that took place at Moynihan Station in New York just a few hours ago. New owner Jay-Z clearly wants to put artist control and the monetary value of music back on the agenda.

Joining him on stage were numerous big hitters: Win Butler and Regine Chassagne (Arcade Fire), Beyoncé, Daft Punk and Deadmaus (complete with masks), Jack White, Jason Aldean, J. Cole, Kanye West, Madonna, Nikki Minaj, Rihanna and Usher. Chris Martin and Calvin Harris crossed over via satellite link.

Alicia Keys chaired the event with a speech that weighed heavy with clichés, reflecting the emotive language behind the service’s relaunch: “Together we are unstoppable. Together we are TIDAL.”  There’s even a social media hashtag #TIDALforALL for those who want to champion its inclusivity.

Whatever your music tastes, that’s an impressive line-up.

How did we get to such a batshit press event when Tidal first launched at the end of October 2014? The answer lies with Jay-Z who saw his purchase bid for Aspiro, Tidal’s parent company, approved by board members not three weeks ago. To kickstart his new acquisition Jay-Z is already rolling out the big guns. Little wonder his celebrity gang is already being referred to as “The avengers of music”.

It remains to be seen if this represents a new era in which even the bigger artists sell their wares direct to streaming services, no label required. If I were a record company employee I’d be seeing a serious uptick in career path uncertainty right about now.

As observed by Keys, the event recalled a university graduation ceremony with each celebrity symbolising their commitment to Tidal by signing a piece of paper – was it a contract(?) – whilst Radiohead’s “The National Anthem” played. That’s some irony given Thom Yorke’s vocal anti-streaming service stance. You can watch the relaunch event over at Tidal.com.

Stateside, US$19.99/month gets you CD-quality streaming, US$9.99/month gets you lossy streaming (similar to that of Spotify). Crucially, there’s no ad-supported free tier. Perhaps this will see Yorke and other streaming refuseniks reconsider their position. Taylor Swift already has with all but her latest album 1989 now available for streaming on Tidal.

At time of writing, daftpunk.com is hosting a splash page that redirects to Tidal.com. No point having the content if you can’t spread the message about its existence.

The propagation of lossless streaming is considerably more newsworthy than DSD because the content is already there: 25m+ cuts ready to go at the click of a button. Tidal not only offers CD-quality streaming but access to 75000 HD music videos and ‘curated editorial content’.

In other Tidal-related news, the service launched in Australia, Hong Kong, Germany and Poland overnight.

You can read previous DAR coverage on Tidal here and (especially) here.

Further information: Tidal

Written by John H. Darko

John lives in the NOW + HERE = NOWHERE. He derives an income from the ad revenues of DAR. John is also an occasional staff writer for Stereophile, 6moons and TONEAudio.

Twitter: DarkoAudio
Instagram: DarkoAudio
Facebook: DAR


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  1. The video made no sense to me. I hope this is not indicative of the future of Tidal. I like Tidal and I have subscribed for 5 months so far. There is not one of those artists in the video that I would ever listen to. I doubt that their style of music would be enhanced by listening to it at above 300 bits.

  2. Lossless streaming has been around for a while with WiMP, Qobuz, and now Tidal, and somehow a bunch of pop stars have saved music?

    • That’s true but star power broadens appeal. The mainstream media barely touched Tidal when it launched last October. Today, my Facebook feed is chock full of Tidal stories from sites that wouldn’t normally go anywhere near it.

      • Totally agree they were even on the bbc news today They achieved what they set out to do & maximise full exposure.

  3. i think they are communication the wrong thing. they are giving us this blab and this horrendous video when the one thing actually going to Tidal it the sound quality. now they introduce an mp3 offering (so the sound quality argument is out the window) and expect people to leave spotify just because jay-z and his friends tell them to? from the mp3 tier they will also not pay more royalties to the artists (that argument is out the window as well), so thats the same as spotify as well. so to the average user this is spotify with a different logo. why didnt they put speakers on the stage or better yet, set up a listening room with some reasonably priced gear to show what its all about. because its shouldnt be about jay-z.

    • The MP3 tier is important. It’s where Tidal will no doubt see most subscribers. Subscribers that they will then have a better chance of up-selling to the $20/month ‘Hi-Fi’ tier. If the ‘Hi-fi’ tier gets nixed down the line, my enthusiasm and I will abandon this (so far) terrific service.

    • The announcement today wasn’t aimed at geeky listeners like us; it was intended for the tens (hundreds?) of millions of people who listen to pop music from the kind of stars we saw on the stage. We’re gnats in the grand scheme of things, but we could benefit from the MQA/TIDAL partnership. Perhaps a more lucrative income stream from streaming at $20/mo as opposed to Spotify’s $10/mo will eventually entice ECM to sign up, for example.

  4. Great article Darko. Important event today, and you hit on so many of its touchstones…in concise and good fashion no less.

    I think the intent of the artists involved in today’s event goes far beyond selling subscriptions to Tidal. Several things suggest that the artists truly believe in and seek to carry out the statements they made (i.e. execute on the collection of quotes you lead off with – great work aggregating those). Today is about artists taking control of the cultural and industry conversation. And it’s about artists leveraging Tidal to unify and create a modern day recording industry that is economically sound and culturally rich.

    I see the intent and the leadership initiative taken by theses artists as something to celebrate. What will “artist-owned” truly mean? Will this initiative have major positive impact on music culture? Answers to those questions are vague at best, but the actions taken by these artists today and the goals that they seek to achieve are the brightest light that I’ve seen in music in a long time. This has the potential to benefit us all in a big way.

    In the long run, I feel a culture change is needed. Today, these artists took action to make that happen, and they have a tool and climate that gives them the potential to succeed. I elaborate in more detail (probably too much detail) on Audiostream’s Tidal post: http://www.audiostream.com/content/tidal-live-brodcast-now#comment-508414

    P.S. when I saw this video today and thought about it’s potential repercussions, I too thought: “if I were working for a record label, I’d be looking around for a good out….soon.” Bit of a different take on the graduation reference/feeling among the artists. I think that was more the feeling of commencing on a new chapter after lessons learned than walking out with a diploma or declaration.

  5. I have mixed feelings about TIDAL and its current owner.
    On the one hand, like Mark above, I will never listen to any of those artists in the video. Not my cup of tea.
    On the other hand, companies led by artists (think of David Chesky) tend to produce more interesting results than those led by businessmen. Jay-Z is both an artist and a businessman, so the combination may prove to be interesting, as well.
    On the “third” hand, though, as soon as any company reaches the real success, it becomes just another money-machine and all bets are off (think of APPLE before and after the demise of Steve Jobs). I am an Apple computer user for more than 20 years and I can tell you, that in the past 19 years combined I had less problems with my Apple computers than in the last one year.
    So, lets wait and see. Only time can show us what will become of TIDAL.

  6. Ramdom thoughts in no particular order:

    If Meridian’s plans for MQA come to pass, streamable over TIDAL, then that will be something unique and really special for us in the HIFI crowd. I hope it happens. I’d plop down $20/mo for that.

    Only a tiny percentage of the population owns an audio rig that can demonstrate a meaningful difference between 320 kbps and 44.1/16. Even on a very good system, the difference is surprisingly small in my experience. The new “Premium” 320 service is where TIDAL will make its money.

    If the new TIDAL flies, lossless will become a footnote unless it offers content and services that Premium doesn’t.

    It looks like TIDAL may become a quasi record label for some artists while remaining a streaming outlet for all the others. If TIDAL annoys the major labels too much, causing Warner and/or Sony to end their agreements, then TIDAL is done.

    Some elite artists might earn more with TIDAL, but the vast majority of artists’ record contracts will keep their streaming earnings negligible. Only a few stars have sweetheart contracts.

    If artists who sign with TIDAL as their record label make big money streaming, then the beleagured giants like Sony will have to rethink their contractual approach to major talent. Who knows? Maybe a consortium of major labels will buy Spotify for its brand recognition, despite its lack of profitability so far.

    Spotify needs to up its game, probably more by fronting celebrities and signing exclusive, lucrative deals than by offering lossless. Spotify can still pivot and do what TIDAL is about to do, albeit without celebrity ownership. Nobody really cares about celebrity ownership except for the celebrities who own TIDAL. Spotify’s response should be interesting.

  7. People still listen to that deadham5ter guy?

    Anyways, good news to those who consider it good news.

    *switches browser tab back to hardwax.com*

  8. I couldn’t care less about the pop stars but I truly hope that they don’t do anything to screw up this company. This is a really good service with true CD quality sound and a very solid selection of music, significantly better than I expected. Was truly surprised at the breadth of offerings and especially the number of out of print and hard to find albums that are available. My hope is that this service will just get better but you never know when a bunch of celebrities get involved.

    • Celebrity involvement like this usually makes my teeth itch BUT it’s an unfortunate fact of life that such endorsements are extremely effective with promotion.