By Mesfin Fekadu
NEW YORK — Tidal, the music and video streaming service co-owned by Jay Z, Rihanna, Madonna and other artists, is inviting more performers to join the company and earn equity.
Senior executive Vania Schlogel said late Tuesday that Tidal welcomes more acts. It introduced its new co-owners at a launch event on Monday.
“Whatever these artists want to do, this is their playground to do it,” Schlogel said. “This is the creative space to just get it done and share that and communicate with their fans.”
The current owners “have equal ownership and majority ownership in the company,” and artists who join them would earn more money through the streaming service than through others that exist, she said. Artists who join Tidal will “be participating in the equity upside of this,” she said.
Schlogel didn’t elaborate on how ownership works, and when asked if the artist-owners invested their own money in Tidal, she said she couldn’t speak about those details.
Tidal’s all-star lineup could help it compete with other free and paid streaming services, from Spotify to Pandora.
“It’s not just dollars and cents, it’s around all the things that come along with being a shareholder, like voicing your thoughts as a board member and having that creative control,” Schlogel said, who added that there’s a stock appreciation rights program for artists. “It’s a different type of involvement.”
Co-owners including Beyonce, Daft Punk, Kanye West, Jack White, Alicia Keys, members of Arcade Fire and Jason Aldean attended the launch. Schlogel dismissed any of the backlash that came after the launch, including a Time magazine article, where the headline read: “How Jay Z’s Tidal Press Conference Showed He’s Out of Touch.”
“(Monday) wasn’t meant to be some stunt,” Schlogel said. “It was meant to be authentic.”
A business controlled by Jay Z bought Tidal for $56 million in mid-March.
The streaming service, which has 540,000 subscribers, provides music and video content that users can stream on computers, tablets and smartphones or listen to offline.
Subscriptions begin at $10.
She said the only owners of the company are artists, though she said they “are contemplating and in discussions” about adding non-performer owners.
The chief financial officer of subscription music service Rhapsody said Tuesday he was excited about Tidal’s launch.
“The fact that you have 16 of the most powerful artists right now … wanting to be in the business we’re in, we’re excited,” said, Ethan Rudin, who also is Rhapsody’s head of label relations. “In my opinion, we’re still in the very early innings with regards to streaming music and if this can act as an opportunity to educate the public as to the long-term future in this format for music consumption, it’s something we’re obviously very excited about. We believe the rising tide raises all ships.”
Rhapsody, which has 2.5 million subscribers and launched in 2001, is a premium service and costs $10. Like Tidal, it does not have a free version.
In an interview Tuesday, singer Darius Rucker said he liked the idea of the company.
“It’s another way to get music and hopefully since its run by artists, the artists will get paid a little bit more of what they deserve than they do from the other ones,” the Hootie & the Blowfish frontman said.
“I wish they called me; I’d be standing on that stage, too,” he said, laughing.