Jay Z‘s Tidal may have just gotten off the ground with exclusive arrangements with more than 16 major artists — including Rihanna, Beyonce, Kanye West, Madonna, Daft Punk and Jack White. But what about all the upper-tier acts who aren’t involved (Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake and Sam Smith among them)? Don’t be surprised if they’re a part of Jimmy Iovine’s planned relaunch of Apple’s Beats Music, expected to arrive in June as a subscription-only service for either $7.99 or $9.99 per month.
Speaking with Billboard about bidding competitively with Iovine behind-the-scenes of Tidal and Beats’ respective launches, Jay Z said, “My thing with Jimmy is, ‘Listen Jimmy, you’re Jimmy Iovine and you’re Apple and truthfully, you’re great. You guys are going to do great things with Beats, but you guys don’t have to…you know, I don’t have to lose in order for you guys to win and let’s just remember that.’ Again, I’m not angry, I actually told him, ‘Yo, you should be helping me. This is for the artists, these are people that you supported your whole life. You know, this is good.'”
As for why Iovine might be looking to outbid Tidal’s offers, Jay Z posited, “I think that’s just his competitive nature and I don’t know if he’s looking at the bigger picture: that is not about me and it’s not about him; it’s about the future of the music business.”
As of its March 30 launch, Tidal had just over 540,000 paid subscribers, according to Roc Nation’s chief investment officer Vania Schlogel, who has been overseeing the company’s integration. Each of the 16 participating artists are believed to have been gifted 3% equity in the company, with the remaining stakes owned by Jay Z, another investor and the record labels, according to executives familiar with Tidal’s financials.
With only 7.7 million paying subscribers in the U.S. streaming marketplace, success for Tidal could look very different a year from now vs. five years down the road, Schlogel says. “I don’t know if this happens in 12 months, but our success will be defined by the industry re-establishing the value of music. One term that I hear all the time is that [recorded] music is a loss leader. Is that gonna set the future of the industry up for success? If we continue that tone, we may as well shut up shop right now. Success to me is the tide rises for everyone, and you stop having terrible conversations about music as a loss leader.”