Jay Z united some of the biggest names in music on Monday to launch Tidal, a new streaming service designed to rival Spotify. Rihanna, Beyoncé, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Usher, Kanye West and Daft Punk were among the artists named as co-owners of the service, which is being billed as the first artist-owned platform for music and video.
At a special event in New York on Monday, the stars stood united and signed an unspecified 'declaration', before Alicia Keys shared the artists' hope that Tidal will "forever change the course of music history".
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(L to R): Usher, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Madonna, Deadmau5, Kanye West and Jay Z
"Music speaks to all of us," she said. "Music brings us all together, it connects us all. Music is so powerful – that is what Tidal will be. A place for connection between artists and fans."
Tidal was launched last October but was bought by Jay Z two weeks ago for $56million (£38million). Unlike its rivals, it does not offer a free version; a standard subscription is $9.99 a month, and there is a 'high fidelity' option available for $19.99.
The rapper's strategy also includes encouraging artists to lobby their record labels to give Tidal new music a week in advance of other services.
Beyoncé and Daft Punk
He told Billboard: "We didn't like the direction music was going and thought maybe we could get in and strike an honest blow.
"Will artists make more money? Even if it means less profit for our bottom line, absolutely. That's easy for us. We can do that. Less profit for our bottom line, more money for the artist; fantastic."
Monday's launch followed a huge social media push in which stars devoted their Twitter and Facebook pages to promote Tidal.
Jay Z on stage signing the Tidal 'declaration'
Kanye told fans, "Together, we can turn the tide and make music history. Start by turning your profile picture blue. #TIDALforALL," while a message on Madonna's Twitter page read: "Music makes the people come together. Join Madonna and turn your profile picture blue. Do it for the music. #TIDALforALL."
Tidal isn't without its critics. Some fans have hit out at the host of wealthy artists who have signed up to the service, seeking to make even more money from the public. But Jay Z has emphasised the question of 'fair play' for musicians, calling the current system "criminal".
"Everyone knows that the pay system is unfair to artists," he told the New York Times. "Everywhere else, everyone gets compensated for their work. Music is everywhere — you consume it every day, everywhere you go. The content creator should be compensated. It's only fair."