Square Inc, a payments company, agreed to purchase a controlling stake in rapper Jay-Z’s Tidal music streaming service for $297 million on Thursday, in a move that could help blockchain and other emerging ways to storing and purchasing online media gain traction.
The partnership “comes down to one basic idea: seeking innovative opportunities for artists to fund their work,” said Square CEO Jack Dorsey, who also operates Twitter Inc.
In a Twitter update, he added that Square and Tidal will collaborate on new listening opportunities “to bring fans closer together,” as well as quick integrations for merchandise sales and financial resources for artists.
In 2015, Jay-Z paid $56 million for Tidal from a Norwegian Entrepreneur.
Tidal pitches itself as an artist-owned platform with support from Kanye West, Beyoncé, Madonna, Rihanna, and Nicki Minaj, among others.
It’s available in over 56 countries. It has managed to set itself apart from Spotify and other competitors by pledging to provide better sound quality to listeners and a larger share of revenue to artists.
However, it has a low subscription base. The percentage of Square’s ownership acquired in the cash and stock sale was not disclosed.
According to Square, Tidal will run separately and current artist shareholders will retain control. Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, will join the board of directors, according to the statement.