Image Credit: Jack Dorsey

Jay-Z sells a significant majority ownership stake in music streaming service TIDAL, to financial payments company Square.

In December, following multiple reports of the two meeting during the pandemic, we heard that Square and Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey was in talks with TIDAL’s owner Jay-Z to purchase the music streaming platform, via an anonymouse source to Bloomberg.

These rumours were confirmed yesterday, as Square, Inc. announced plans to purchase a majority ownership stake, as they enter into a definitive agreement to aquire the music streaming platform for $297 million, paid as a mix of cash and stock.

TIDAL will operate independently within Square, alongside the Seller and Cash App ecosystems. With a press release from Square stating, “the acquisition 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.”

Jay-Z bought TIDAL, formerly WiMP back in 2015 for $56 million and grew the platform using his and many other major artists’ high-profile status. TIDAL was introduced at a press conference in 2015, as Jay-Z and 16 of the biggest artists in the world took to the stage. According to the site, current artist-owners 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, Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, T.I. and Usher. Reports at the time suggested each artist was given a 3% equity in the streaming service. These existing artist shareholders will be the remaining stakeholders and co-owners of TIDAL.

Since soon after re-launching the streaming service, TIDAL’s user numbers have remained largely unknown. Reports claim the streaming service has struggled in recent years, after some artists including Jay-Z removed their music from other streaming services such as Spotify for exclusive release on TIDAL, before returning to all major DSPs.

The close of the tranaction is subject to standard regulatory approvals, which is expected to go through in Q2 2021. Jay-Z will join Square’s Board of Directors, with Square executive Jesse Dorogusker becoming TIDAL’s interim leader at the close of the transaction.

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.

Jack Dorsey, co-founder and CEO, Square

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. This shared vision makes me even more excited to join the Square board. This partnership will be a game-changer for many. I look forward to all this new chapter has to offer!

Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter.

TIDAL sets a high standard for supporting artists, capturing music culture, and delivering the best audio quality to fans. Square has also set a high standard for building elegant, accessible, and fair tools for sellers and individuals to economically empower them. Together, TIDAL and Square will be music-obsessed and artist-focused while we explore new artist tools, listener experiences, and access to financial systems that help artists be successful.

Jesse Dorogusker, Hardware Lead, Square

Jack Dorsey and Jay-Z expanded on the deal in Twitter threads.

TIDAL (formerly WiMP) was one of the first streaming services to offer hi-fi music streaming. With lossless music as one of the key selling points of TIDAL HiFi, will we see a shift in users as streamer turn to Spotify’s new HiFi platform?