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Twitter CEO takes control of Jay Z’s Tidal in R4.5bn deal

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Jack Dorsey, Twitter and Square CEO.
Jack Dorsey, Twitter and Square CEO.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, through Square, a financial services company he founded, has acquired majority ownership of subscription-based music, podcast and video streaming service Tidal for R4.5 billion ($297 million).

The deal is a mixture of cash and shares in Square.

Tidal, which was owned by musician Shawn “Jay Z” Carter, will operate independently within Square, a deal the company says will economically empower musicians.

“Artists are entrepreneurs with a dream and deserve access to systems, tools and financial freedom to reach those dreams at every stage in their career,” says Square in a statement.

“Square has helped millions of businesses start, run and grow by providing them with tools needed for success.”

The statement says Tidal is the only music service built by artists, for artists ─ which is now more important than ever as consumers look for authentic digital connections with their favorite artists.

The streaming service has a catalogue of more than 70 million songs and 250 000 videos, with listeners in more than 56 countries and business relationships with more than 100 record labels and distributors.

“It comes down to one simple idea: finding new ways for artists to support their work,” says Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of Square. “New ideas are found at intersections, and we believe there’s a compelling one between music and the economy. I knew Tidal was something special as soon as I experienced it, and it will continue to be the best home for music, musicians and culture.”

Square, a financial services, merchant services aggregator and mobile payment company, with experience in making financial services more relatable and accessible to millions of customers, will be leveraged to help musicians find new ways to support their work and make better decisions through Tidal.

Jay Z, who is expected to join Square’s board of directors subject to the closing of the transaction, says: “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. I said from the beginning that Tidal was about more than just streaming music, and six years later, it has remained a platform that supports artists at every point in their careers.”

At the conclusion of the deal, in addition to Jay Z, all of Tidal’s artist shareholders will continue to be co-owners of the streaming service.

Commenting on the deal, Jesse Dorogusker, a Square executive who will serve as interim lead of Tidal upon the closing of the transaction, says: “Tidal sets a high standard for supporting artists, capturing music culture and delivering the best audio quality to fans.

“Square has also set a high standard for building elegant, accessible and fair tools for sellers and individuals to economically empower them. Together, Tidal and Square will be music-obsessed and artist-focused while we explore new artist tools, listener experiences and access to financial systems that help artists be successful.”

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