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Jack Dorsey’s Square Buys Majority Stake in JAY-Z’s Tidal for $297 Million

JAY-Z joins Square's board of directors as part of the deal

Jack Dorsey square tidal buys majority share jay-z
JAY-Z (photo by Raven Varona) and Jack Dorsey (photo by Hermione Hodgson)
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    JAY-Z just got a little more Square. The mobile payments firm run by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has purchased a majority stake in JAY-Z’s music streaming platform Tidal for a reported $297 million.

    The deal will see JAY-Z and Tidal’s other artist shareholders — such as Beyoncé, Rihanna, Arcade Fire’s Win Butler and Regine Chassagne, and Jack White — maintain their shares of the company. JAY, meanwhile, will join Square’s board of directors.

    Square’s acquisition of Tidal won’t do much to change the streaming service on the surface. It will still operate independent of Square, with the leadership team and nearly 200 employees in New York, Oslo, and local markets all staying aboard. According to soon-to-be interim Tidal head Jesse Dorogusker, Square’s current hardware lead, the deal is really about expanding the payment platform’s goals of giving more control to individual businesses — in this case, musicians.

    “We see a real connection to considering artists as entrepreneurs, as CEOs of their own business life, not just the biggest musicians in the world,” Dorogusker told The Hollywood Reporter. “[Artists starting out in the music industry] don’t have all the access they need, they get paid slowly, they don’t see all the data. It’s really down the middle of things that Square has done uniquely well.”

    Dorogusker added that the deal came together as JAY-Z and Dorsey realized their “shared purpose” in building “things that empowered others to be more successful in their own work.”

    Added JAY-Z in a statement, “Artists deserve better tools to assist them in their creative journey. Jack and I have had many discussions about Tidal’s endless possibilities that have made me even more inspired about its future. This shared vision makes me even more excited to join the Square board. This partnership will be a game changer for many. I look forward to all this new chapter has to offer!”

    Tidal launched in 2015, months before Apple Music hit the market and just before Spotify became ubiquitous. Despite its Hi-Fi streaming quality offerings and a catalog of 70 million songs and 25,000 videos available in 56 countries, the platform has failed to truly compete with those other streamers. While Spotify boasts 155 million subscribers and Apple Music holds over 60 million, Tidal’s last reported numbers of 3 million paid users comes from 2016.

    We’ll see if the addition of Square’s resources changes anything when the acquisition is finalized, which is currently expected to happen in the second quarter of 2021.

     

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