Jay Z accuses Tidal rivals of ‘smear campaign’ as platform hits 770k subscribers

Having faced a battering in the media and the music industry in the three weeks following its puffed-up press conference, Tidal owner Jay Z has publicly defended the service – and revealed that it has attracted 770,000 paying subscribers to date.

Jay Z, aka Shawn Carter, is the majority shareholder in Tidal, having acquired the firm for €50m ($56m) earlier this year, and then doled out equal 3% chunks of a 45% stakeholding to 15 other music superstars including Beyonce, Daft Punk, Madonna, Calvin Harris, Kanye West and Rihanna.

Tweeting on his personal account yesterday, Jay Z warned followers that there was a ‘stream of consciousness coming’ and then proceeded to post numerous messages featuring the hashtag ‘#Tidalfacts’.

In order, they read:

  • Tidal is doing just fine. We have over 770,000 subs. We have been in business less than one month. #TidalFacts
  • The iTunes Store wasn’t built in a day. It took Spotify 9 years to be successful…
  • We are here for the long haul. Please give us a chance to grow & get better. #TidalFacts
  • There are many big companies that are spending millions on a smear campaign. We are not anti-anyone, we are pro-artist & fan. #TidalFacts
  • We made Tidal for fans. We have more than just music. We have video, exclusive concerts, tickets for events early, live sports!…
  • ….Tidal is where artists can give their fans more without the middlemen. #TidalFacts
  • Indie artists who want to work directly w/ us keep 100% of their music. “If you don’t want the CEOs all in the videos” haa #tidalfacts
  • Tidal pays 75% royalty rate to ALL artists, writers and producers – not just the founding members on stage.
  • Rich getting richer? Equity values… YouTube $390 billion. Apple $760 billion. Spotify $8 billion. Tidal $60 million. #TidalFacts
  • My cousin just moved to Nigeria to discover new talent. Tidal is a global company.
  • We have Tidal X – it supports artists by giving them a platform to connect with their most loyal fans. Tidal is for all. #Tidalfacts
  • Our actions will speak louder than words. We made Tidal to bring people the best experiences and to help artists give that to their fans over and over again…
  • We are human (even Daft Punk ha). We aren’t perfect – but we are determined. #TidalFacts

So what have we learned?

Jay Z is still, as you would hope, a Tidal believer. Despite recent confusion in the press over the percentage paid to rights-holders, Tidal really does pay 75% of all revenues – 5% more than Spotify – to ‘artists writers and producers’, which must equate to labels and publishers in the first instance.

He believes that ‘big companies’ are funding a smear campaign against Tidal.The platform’s successful attempts to secure exclusive music and videos from its equity-holding superstar friends – including Beyonce, Rihanna, Daft Punk and Jack White – are obviously likely to have irked Apple, Spotify and YouTube.

(It’s worth noting that MBW has, so far, received no direct lobbying from the likes of Apple regarding Tidal.)

The ‘equity values’ mentioned of YouTube and Apple are their market caps on the stock exchange. Jay Z says Tidal’s equivalent is $60m but some quarters have given it a post-acquisition valuation of $250m.

And then there’s that 770,000 subscribers revelation. Before Jay Z took over Tidal (which shared its worldwide audience with sister brand WiMP), it had attracted half a million paying subscribers around the world, with almost 400,000 of them coming via telco partnerships.

However,  just 17,000 people had subscribed to Tidal’s high-end audio tier – in addition to 24,000 who paid for WiMP’s equivalent HD subscription.

Tidal confirmed earlier this month that its CEO, Andy Chen, would be leaving the business as it axed around 12 other positions.

Former Aspiro boss Peter Tonstad has taken over as interim CEO of the platform.

 Music Business Worldwide

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