It should come as no surprise that Jay Z likes to buy things. And then sell them. And then buy some more. While most celebrities boast about their homes and cars, Shawn Carter makes hefty investments in companies. It’s a currency that many can’t fathom, but perhaps the smartest way to spend his money when he’s not using it to make his music. From Samsung to the Spotted Pig, Jay’s investments transcend any rhyme or reason — he simply puts his money where the people are, living up to his line, “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man.” His latest endeavor? Aspiro, a music streaming service geared to change the game. Here’s everything we know so far about this deal.
Negotiations began in January and Jay Z almost lost.
At the top of the year, Jay (via his company Project Panther Bidco) put his bid down to invest in Aspiro, a Swedish tech company, for $56 million. Shareholders who owned 10 percent of Aspiro had initial plans to shut down Jay Z’s offer, but changed their minds. The negotiations ended the second week of March, and here we are with Jay Z’s full acquisition of Aspiro at 95.18 percent, enough to call it a buyout. The official U.S. relaunch of Aspiro is March 30.
Aspiro has (well, had) two parts: TIDAL and WiMP.
The Swedish company launched in 1998, and previously Aspiro had two streaming services under it: TIDAL and WiMP. Both offered high definition, high quality audio and videos, along with editorial content competing with magazines and websites, as well as curated playlists. WiMP was touted more as the mobile option. However, it has now been folded into TIDAL, which is perfect, because WiMP was perhaps the worst name ever for a music service.
TIDAL will be Spotify’s biggest competitor.
The aforementioned technical specifications suggest that TIDAL is all about the sound quality while simultaneously enhancing the user experience through editorial content. In addition, TIDAL has what is called high fidelity lossless sound, meaning that even though larger files are cut down in size (to assist in rapid streaming) there is no loss in the sound quality. True audiophiles will know that this makes a world of a difference when it comes to artists' projects intended to be absorbed in high definition. Now you can stream Young Thug, and it will sound as if he’s sitting in your living room performing. Lucky you.
Taylor Swift is down for the cause.
There must be a hefty licensing structure at TIDAL for artists. Taylor Swift was one of the many acts who divorced from Spotify due to minimal payback for their song-streaming. However, Taylor Swift’s music is, in fact, available on TIDAL, along with more than 25 million other songs. All of those birthday selfies with Taylor Swift must have paid off for Jay Z (and Beyoncé), because he has one of the top-selling acts in the game available on his service and not its archrival’s.
Where does this leave Beats By Dre?
Apple is currently tinkering with some form of an iTunes revamp that is supposedly rivaling TIDAL, considering it is being made to almost replicate it. While Dre’s Beats Audio has some similar à la carte features as TIDAL, including curated playlists by “experts,” how does the sound compare? Also the first thing on Aspiro’s website is a pair of headphones that say “Aspiro” on them. Could that be Jay’s next step? So much for a Jay Z feature on Detox.
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