Jay Z relaunches music streaming service

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Rapper Jay Z has partnered the biggest musicians in the world to take on Spotify and Apple with Tidal, an artist-owned music streaming service.

He appeared on stage with more than a dozen equity owners, including his wife, singer Beyonce, and pop star Rihanna, at an event in New York that underscored the artist-friendly approach of Tidal. He recently acquired the music streaming service as part of the Swedish company Aspiro for US$56 million (S$77 million) in January.

Tidal, which offers high-quality streaming for US$19.99 a month, added a standard version for American users on Monday that starts at US$9.99, and said Sprint Corp will be a partner.

The service, which does not offer free streaming, will have cool on its side as it mounts a challenge to Spotify and the new service that Apple's Beats Music is working on.

Rockers Arcade Fire and rapper Nicki Minaj were among the co-owners who promoted Tidal on social media before the event. Kanye West and Coldplay coloured their social media profiles a shade of blue, the colour of Tidal's logo, and urged fans to do the same.

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.

Alicia Keys, Madonna, Jack White, Usher and French dance duo Daft Punk were also among those introduced as owners of the company, which Keys called "the first artistowned global music and entertainment platform".

"Our goal is simple: We want to create a better service and a better experience for both fans and artists," she said in her speech, in which she quoted Jimi Hendrix and Friedrich Nietzsche.

"Our mission goes beyond commerce, it goes beyond technology. Our intent is to preserve music's importance in our lives."

Jay Z is pursuing exclusive deals with artists, many of whom have bemoaned the thin payments they receive for digital music rights. Music downloads have also been shrinking as streaming services boom in popularity.

The Beatles' Ringo Starr told Reuters TV on Monday: "All I ever hear is that your record has been streamed 17 million times and they give you a cheque for 12 bucks. I don't understand that."

Last year, Taylor Swift pulled her entire catalogue from Spotify in a shocking move. Her catalogue is available on Tidal, but her latest album 1989 is not.

Tidal is available in 35 countries, including Singapore, and subscribers can listen offline to as many songs as their device will hold.

Tidal says it has 25 million tracks and 75,000 music videos. Acts include Rihanna, Madonna, the Rolling Stones and Swift.

Jay Z offered a peek at his strategy during a pre-recorded video that streamed after the press event.

"This thing was the thing everyone wanted and everyone feared," he said. "If these artists can sit in a room together, the game changes forever. And it happened today."

 
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