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Jay Z on epic Tidal relaunch: 'We're in this for the right reasons'

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Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Jay Z re-launched his music streaming service Tidal on Monday, but he didn’t do it quietly and he didn’t do it alone. Instead, an army of artists—Madonna, Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, Daft Punk, Arcade Fire’s Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, Jack White, J. Cole, Jason Aldean, Kanye West, Deadmau5, Nicki Minaj, Usher, and Rihanna— all joined him onstage at the launch event while Calvin Harris and Coldplay’s Chris Martin joined them digitally.

Jay Z bought Tidal in early March, bringing dozens of artists together to partner on the project—not just in solidarity, but monetarily, as each reportedly has a 3 percent stake in the company. He recently did an interview with Billboard to explain how this works and what his hopes are for the company.

Tidal became available in the U.S. last year, and was described as a service for those who wanted higher quality audio files and therefore were willing to pay more for them. Top-tier subscriptions cost $19.99 per month; unlike competitor Spotify, there is no free option.

“Imagine your life without music. It’s a very valuable part of your life, and like I said, that’s why we got in this business. It seems to be going the other way. People are not respecting the music, and [are] devaluing it and devaluing what it really means. People really feel like music is free, but will pay $6 for water. You can drink water free out of the tap, and it’s good water. But they’re okay paying for it. It’s just the mind-set right now,” Jay Z told Billboard. 

The rapper and mogul added that while there was a “bit of nervousness” among the artists involved, everyone was excited by the idea. “Like ‘Yes, let’s do this. Let’s not only create a place that has great music—let’s protect the future generation of artists,'” he said. “I think this thing changes the world for them. It makes everything different, you know? Between those things it was like, ‘We have to do this, we are almost charged in this position to do it.”

“And I just believe as long as we’re on the side of right, and we’re in this for the right reasons, it will work. It’s just a big opportunity for everyone—not a thing that belongs to any one person. That’s not fair, that’s not a democratic process, and that isn’t the idea behind it.”