TIDAL is a subscription-based music, video, and podcast streaming service from Norway founded by Aspiro, a Norwegian public company. Its primary offering is its lossless audio, high-definition music videos, and exclusive content, plus special features. The company launched in 2014, and between that time and now, it hosts more than 70 million music tracks and 250,000 music videos.
In 2015, Project Panther Bidco, controlled by American rapper and businessman Jay Z, acquired Aspiro for $56.2 million, and the ownership of Tidal was transferred in the deal. This new acquisition relaunched the service with a mass marketing campaign geared toward passing Tidal’s message as the first artist-owned streaming service. In 2017, 33% of Tidal was sold to Sprint for $200 million, and then in March 2021, Jack Dorsey’s Square Inc. paid $297 million to become the majority owner of Tidal while appointing Jay Z to Square’s board of directors.
Tidal’s marketing is based on the high fidelity and lossless audio quality it offers, and it has been the primary attraction for most of its subscribers. However, it charges higher subscription fees and offers exclusive content from artists, which users have expressed may lead to more music piracy. TIDAL currently operates in 61 countries. Tidal’s history cannot be told without mentioning WiMP, the company from which it branched out from. Tidal’s services were later made available outside Norway in Germany, Poland, Sweden, and Denmark. On October 28, 2014, Aspiro launched Tidal in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. It also had 16 integration partners made up of home audio manufacturers like Sonos and other brands supporting the launch. By January 2015, Tidal expanded its reach in Europe by launching in Finland, Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.
Tidal started selling CDs and digital downloads in September 2015, and later that year, in December, it appointed Jeff Toig as CEO. In March 2017, Jeff left the company, and Richard Sanders was announced as his replacement in August 2017. As part of its commitment to deliver high-quality audio to its subscribers, Tidal announced a partnership with Master Quality Authenticated (MQA). The partnership with the British company was geared toward delivering master-quality recordings with the highest possible resolution to its HiFi subscribers. This is a one-of-a-kind service offering that no other music streaming company offers. On January 23, 2017, American mobile giant Sprint announced its intention to purchase 33% of Tidal in a deal that would see Sprint customers enjoy exclusive access to Tidal’s content library.
Over the years, Tidal has gone through a series of growth and acquisitions that have shaped it into the company it is today. The company has grown, expanded, and reached more parts of the world than when it was launched in Norway. The most recent development is the acquisition of the majority shares in Tidal by Square Inc. which racks up to about $297 million in cash and stock. It is a real power move that empowers the current shareholders while empowering the company to actualize its goals of becoming the most preferred streaming platform.