There’s a turquoise revolution on Twitter today in support of Jay Z’s launch of his Tidal music streaming service. Artists including music royalty such as Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Coldplay and Madonna have turned their avatars turquoise to promote the service’s launch with the #TIDALforALL hashtag. And rumor has it that Rihanna’s eighth album will drop today on Tidal.
Jay Z’s company Project Panther bought Swedish tech firm Aspiro’s two streaming music services—WiMP and Tidal—for $56 million, clearly setting his sights on competitors Spotify, Rdio, Rhapsody and Beats Music by promising more returns to the artists. With Aspiro being folded to focus on Tidal, the music mogul is calling on his musician friends to lend their support.
Taylor Swift, on record for pulling her catalog from Spotify, will also bring her catalog to Tidal. A spokesperson for Swift said her music is available on all streaming services that require a subscription fee. “Big Machine Records believes music has value and we do not believe Taylor’s music should be made available for free.”
Other artists supporting Tidal, many of whom showed up at the launch event in New York today, include Alicia Keys, deadmau5, DJ Calvin Harris, Usher, Daft Punk, Arcade Fire, Jack White, Jason Aldean and Beyonce.
Tidal, which already has deals in place the major record labels, will offer subscribers access to 25 million tracks, 75,000 music videos and artist interviews, curated playlists and other exclusive content. Standard streaming will run at $9.95 per month, while the “lossless” premium streaming service, at $19.95 per month, promises the highest quality audio and video with no advertising.
Most importantly of all for the artists involved, there is no free tier, like Spotify, which charges $10/month for ad-free service and a free tier with ads. Beats Music, in comparison, charges $99/year or $9.99/month.
Fans may appreciate that Tidal will also work when offline. Streaming on demand music last year edged out CD sales in revenues for the first time in the US, with Spotify now claiming 60 million users, with 15 million of them paid. France’s Deezer is the second-largest service with 6 million customers, and last year entered the US as a high-end service.
— TIDAL (@TIDALHiFi) March 30, 2015
The stakes are huge. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) reports that US streaming music revenues increased about 29 percent last year to reach $1.87 billion, accounting for more than one-quarter of total industry revenues, according to eMarketer. Paid subscriptions to on-demand music services, the largest share of streaming revenues, grew by 25 percent last year to $799 million.
“Jay Z is one smart businessman, but launching a streaming music network in this competitive environment without a big marketing budget may prove to be more than even he can handle,” reports Forbes. “Even with the help of his superstar friends, it may prove to be impossible to leapfrog Spotify in the market, let alone even catch up to it, and the deep pockets of Apple and Google could eclipse both a flash under the right circumstances.”
Regardless, it’s a Tidal wave on Twitter as musicians sets out to change the music streaming business—and particularly before Apple introduces its new streaming music service powered by Beats.