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Show us the money! Jay-Z, Kanye and Beyonce unite music's biggest stars to launch new Tidal streaming service to kill off Spotify and get a bigger cut for themselves (for $20-a-month)

A host of the biggest names in the music industry have joined forces to launch Tidal, a streaming service being billed as the first artist-owned platform for music and video.

Rihanna, Madonna, Beyonce, Usher, Daft Punk, Arcade Fire, Jack White and Kanye West joined a host of other stars as they were revealed as co-owners of the subscription service, which is the brainchild of Jay Z. 

Unlike rivals Spotify, the service will not have a free tier - meaning the musicians stand to make more money from it. 

Alicia Keys said the artists hope Tidal will 'forever change the course of music history' and ensure the viability of the industry at Monday's launch event in New York City.

The celebrities - which also included Nicki Minaj, Jason Aldean, Usher, Arcade Fire and deadmau5 - stood in a line, and in solidarity by mostly wearing black onstage as Keys spoke to the audience at Skylight at Moynihan Station in Manhattan. 

Keys called the event 'a graduation.'

'So we come together before you on this day, March 30th, 2015, with one voice in unity in the hopes that today will be another one of those moments in time, a moment that will forever change the course of music history. 

'For today we announce of Tidal, the first ever artist-owned, global music and entertainment platform,' Keys said.

However, details about the streaming service were vague. 

The membership-based service - similar to subscription service Spotify - will provide music and exclusive video content that users can stream on computers, tablets and smartphones or listen to offline. 

Unlike Spotify there isn't a free service. 

It is being offered to U.S. users at two price points: about $9.95 for standard sound quality and $19.99 for 'lossless high fidelity sound quality.'

In the United Kingdom the premium service will set users back £20. 

Tidal streams at 1,411 kilobytes per second - well above the 320 for premium subscribers of Spotify, which offers lower levels for free users.

Earlier claims were made that Tidal offers artists double the streaming rates of its rival. 

However, the firm has confirmed if this is still the case. 

The difference means that Tidal offers higher sound quality for audiophiles with advanced sound systems - but that casual listeners using simple laptops or smartphones may face slower connections.

 

The venue for the event was transformed to display a walkway paying tribute to the different decades in music, starting with the 1950s.

HOW THE STREAMING SERVICES COMPETE
Service  Cost 
Tidal $9.95 for standard sound quality and $19.99 for 'lossless high fidelity sound quality' 
 
Spotify   Free Premium level with ads, Premium $10 per month service
Beats Music   $9.99 per month or $99 per year

Coldplay's Chris Martin and Calvin Harris, who both appeared via video, are also co-owners.

'Our mission goes beyond commerce, it goes beyond technology. 

'Our intent is to preserve music's importance in our lives,' Keys said. 

'Music is the language of love, of laughter, of heartbreak, of mystery. It's the world's true, true, without question, universal language.'

Each of the owners signed documents at the event as the audience screamed when they walked to a table in the center of the stage.

Offering curated playlists and 'editorial', Tidal already has deals in place with all the major record labels. It will also work when offline, with users able to 'listen on the subway'.

The artists hope the service can compete with platforms including Spotify and Apple's soon-to-be revamped music service involving Beats Music.

Streaming - which allows users to play unlimited on-demand music online - has quickly shaken up the industry, narrowly edging out CD sales in revenues last year in the United States.

Industry leader Spotify says it has 60 million users with 15 million of them paying - generally $10 a month.

Spotify already has a range of rivals including US-based Rhapsody and Google Play.

Paris-based Deezer is the second larger service with 6 million customers. It is strong in Europe and last year entered the United States as a high-end-only service.

The most recent numbers for Tidal are at 540,000, according to the company.

Like Tidal, Deezer's elite service uses FLAC files which are larger than MP3s, which are most common for music.

Apple - which pioneered digital music through iTunes in 2001 - is reportedly also looking to launch a new streaming service as the market shifts away from permanent downloads.

Apple earlier made a bid for streaming customers by buying Beats Electronics, run by another rap mogul, Dr. Dre.

Along with the United States, Tidal runs in major markets including Britain and France and plans to launch later this year in Australia and Germany.

 

 

Alicia asked the crowd to: 'think about how many times music has personally picked you up and reminded you that you can do it again.'

'Music speaks to all of us,' she said. 'Music brings us together, it connects us all. 

'Music is so powerful - that is what Tidal will be. A place for connection between artists and fans. 

'The place to discover the music that will become the soundtrack for the rest of our lives.'

The launch came after a huge social media push, in which the stars devoted their Twitter and Facebook pages to promoting Tidal.  

The mastermind behind the new system, Jay Z purchased Swedish tech company Aspiro for $56 million earlier this year to take control of Tidal.

Before the purchase in February he reportedly hosted a meeting of the music world's biggest stars at which he lamented 'crass commercialization'.

Daft Punk's two members were key figures in deciding on a strategy during the meeting days before the Grammy Awards at The Fig House event space in a remote part of Pasadena, Los Angeles. 

And it appears Jay Z's business mind convinced them to open their pockets, and sign on as 'co-owners'.

Norwegian business daily Dagens Naeringsliv reported in January that Jay Z's company was particularly interested in Wimp's high-fidelity Tidal streaming service which is being launched on the U.S. market.

'The Wimp/Tidal service has the potential for greatness, given that it has high-end audio capabilities,' music specialist Simon Dyson at corporate analytics firm Ovum told AFP in an email, adding that the $56-million price tag was 'not excessive'. 

Jay-Z is one of the world's best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 100 million records. Forbes estimated last year that his net worth was $520 million. 

Spotify was a pioneer in the streaming music business. The unlisted company boasted 15 million paying subscribers in mid-January and is available in 58 countries.