Jay Z joins Digital Music Debate with a Big Move

Rapper Jay Z, accompanied by a lined-up of musical superstars, launched a new service, Tidal, on March 30, which promises not only “high fidelity sound quality, high definition music videos and expertly curated editorial,” but also, perhaps more notably, equity to musicians.  Tidal will not offer any free content, only two monthly subscriptions based on audio quality.  Jay Z and Beyonce’s brand have helped them successfully court musicians for exclusive access to their tracks for a limited time.

Tidal differentiates itself from other digital music distributors such as Apple or Spotify in that this product is artist-owned.  This means that it is the first service to not only offer artists royalty payments but also equity in streaming companies, giving them a piece of the pie in a growing business (a third of revenues).  With this move, Jay Z has become a player in the ongoing debate about digital music technology, which has lead to multiple licensing and copyright disputes.