Taking a page from the old United Artists movie studio playbook, Jay Z relaunched the Tidal music service Monday with a healthy crop of music talents signing on as his artistic and business partners.
Madonna, Kanye West, Alicia Keys, Rihanna, Jack White, Beyonce, Usher, Deadmau$, Coldplay's Chris Martin, Daft Punk, Jason Aldean, Calvin Harris, J.Cole and Arcade Fire's Win Butler were among the artists who lined up on stage in New York Monday to "sign in please" for what looked like their own private Declaration of Independence.
Keys called the vaguely detailed partnership "the beginning of a whole new era." Madonna, in a video clip played after the ceremony, said she was tired of being treated like a "product," that Tidal is "putting art back in the forefront."
The streaming music business has lately experienced huge growth - last year passing CDs in gross revenues for the first time. But the artists' share of the booty has been pitifully weak, reason why Taylor Swift pulled her catalogue from streaming market leader Spotify, reason why Billboard chart analysts calculate 1,500 streams as the equivalent of one album actually sold.
Tidal can afford to be more generous, if it gets customers to sign up for its' premium $19.99 a month service, which currently boasts 25 million tracks and 75 thousand video clips that users can stream from an iOS or Android app or web player.
$9.99 is the normal entry price for a month of Spotify, Rhapsody or Beats Music delivered to home and portable devices.
Customers enjoy a significantly higher resolution "CD quality" streaming service with Tidal for their $20 spot, a difference significant to sound purists like artist/recording studio/label owner White, he declared.
And as business partners, the participating artists will have lots of incentive to place exclusive live and studio content and album premieres on Tidal.
Jay Z bought the controlling interest in Tidal in March for a reported $56 million. At the moment, it has somewhere between 17,000 and 35,000 paying subscribers (depending on the source), while Spotify claims 15 millon paying customers world-wide and second place Rhapsody has about 2.5 million subscribers.
Tidal will also offer a $9.99 monthly option streaming at 320 Kbps, but does not/will not offer a free-with-commercials listening option, as does Spotify.