Jay Z on his new streaming platform Tidal: ‘It’s not me against Spotify’

Rapper launches the service in New York

Jay-Z has said that new streaming platform Tidal is not a direct rival for Spotify, rather than an attempt to “strike an honest blow” in shaping the way music is going.

The Project Panther Bidco company, co-owned by Jay Z, recently acquired Tidal from its Norwegian parent company Aspiro for 464 million kroner (about £47 million). Tidal Hifi already offers more than 25 million songs and 75,000 music videos to more than half a million subscribers in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Poland.

An all-star cast launched Tidal in New York yesterday (March 30) with Kanye West, Madonna, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Arcade Fire, Jack White, J Cole, Nicki Minaj, Deadmau5, Daft Punk and Alicia Keys all attending the live-streamed launch, with Coldplay’s Chris Martin and Calvin Harris present via live video link-up. All those present then signed Tidal’s charter.

Speaking to Billboard in a new interview about Tidal, Jay Z said: “We didn’t like the direction music was going and thought maybe we could get in and strike an honest blow and if, you know, the very least we did was make people wake up and try to improve the free vs. paid system, and promote fair trade, then it would be a win for us anyway.”

The star then went on to explain the importance of valuing music.

He stated: “People are not respecting the music, and [are] devaluing it and devaluing what it really means. People really feel like music is free, but will pay $6 (£4) for water. You can drink water free out of the tap, and it’s good water. But they’re OK paying for it. It’s just the mindset right now.”

Despite Tidal’s most obvious competition being Spotify, Jay Z stressed that is not how he saw it.

He insisted: “It’s not me against Spotify, but for us, you know, just the idea of the way we came into it, with everyone having equity, will open the dialogue — whether it be with the labels, the publishers or whoever.”

Ultimately, the rapper claimed, Tidal will seek to give those involved in making the music more money.

He said: “For someone like me, I can go on tour. But what about the people working on the record, the content creators and not just the artists? If they’re not being compensated properly, then I think we’ll lose some writers and producers and people like that who depend on fair trade. Some would probably have to take another job, and I think we’ll lose some great writers in the process.

“Is it fair? No. If you put in work, everyone else, you go to work you get paid. That’s fair trade. It’s what our country is built on.”

Tidal launched with a number of exclusive releases for its initial subscribers. Video figures highly among the exclusives with The White Stripes’ first-ever television appearance and Daft Punk’s 2006 film Electroma both available. Additionally there are playlists curated by Arcade Fire, Jay Z, Beyoncé and Coldplay, plus a preview of Todd Rundgren’s new collaboration with Lindstrøm and Emil Nikolaisen.