Tidal, the lossless streaming music service that launched in the UK and the US towards the end of last year looks set to be acquired by Jay-Z. Well, not the man himself, but his corporate holdings are set to have their bid of $56 Million approved and the acquisition go ahead. This would of course put Mr Carter in direct competition with Dr Dre and Beats Music. The $56 Million bid isn't just for Tidal of course, it's for the WiMP service that's been running for a few years now in Europe and it would see S. Carter Enterprises purchase all of the Swedish firm Aspiro AB, the company that owns Tidal and WiMP.
This is an interesting acquisition for Jay-Z and his team, not least because Tidal is hardly in line with the rest of his properties. Tidal is not your run-of-the-mill streaming service, it's not just another Spotify. Instead, Tidal focuses on offering lossless music in FLAC format streaming at 16-bit, 1411kbps 44.1 kHz. I've been using it for the last few weeks now, and I have to say that the difference in quality between this and Google Play is very much noticeable, and far from the usual excuses we hear from naysayers. Tidal is a service about the music, it's about curation, carefully considered playlists, editorials and a focus on the not-so-mainstream new releases. It's hardly the sort of service that I'd see Jay-Z looking to bring into the fold.
Still, Aspiro AB must see something to be made from the deal as the board has "unanimously" suggested to shareholders that they accept the deal. The agreement period is between February 19th and March 11th, and the "Project Panther Bidco Ltd" bidder (itself indirectly owned by S. Carter Enterprises) looks to end with an ownership of 90% of all shares.
Tidal is great, I love it. But then again I'm not everyone, instead I'm someone who spends a silly amount of money on headphones, loves HiFi gear and has DACs and headphone amps all over my desk. I care about my music and I get what lossless files are and why compression is definitely convenient, but hardly ideal. Not everyone cares that much though, and considering that Tidal costs $19.99 or £19.99 a month, it's decidedly "high-end". Would a takeover by Jay-Z and his company push Tidal to compete with Spotify as just-another-service or would they really push the high-end nature of lossless streaming? I certainly hope so, as Tidal sounds great, and the team clearly has the experience (having ran WiMP for years in Europe) and there's a lot of music on offer (both Top 40 and otherwise). The deal has yet to go final yet, but it all looks pretty much set in stone at this point. If you'd like to try out Tidal you can do so from the Play Store, and I'll be writing more about the service soon.