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Jack Dorsey could end up controlling one of the top global music streamers

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Many of you know of Jack Dorsey as co-founder and CEO of Twitter. What you might not know is that Dorsey is also the founder and CEO of Square. The latter is a financial services company that allows a smartphone to be used as a mobile credit card processor. For example, let’s say that your air conditioner is on the fritz. The repairman comes and needs to charge you $500 for the work. Instead of calling in the customer’s credit card info to the office, the repairman whips out his phone, plugs the Square into the handset’s charging port, swipes the card through the Square unit, and receives an approval code (assuming all goes well).

Square is reportedly in talks to acquire music streamer Tidal for an unknwon

The merchant deposits the amount of the transaction with his bank and Square earns a small percentage of the value of the transaction. Square is now looking to diversify by adding other businesses. For example, Bloomberg reports that Square is in talks to acquire music streamer Tidal. The latter was acquired by rapper/entrepreneur Jay-Z in 2015 for $56 million. The information came from a source who remained anonymous because the talks between Dorsey and Jay-Z were held in private. The source did made it clear that at the end of the day, there is still a chance that no deal gets done.

There is speculation about the financial health of Tidal after Jay-Z released his songs to Spotify after they were exclusively streamed over Tidal. The most recent subscription data released by the service was disseminated back in 2016. At that time, Tidal had three million paid subscribers. Even assuming that Tidal was able to generate some strong growth over the last three to four years, the service will still be well behind the world’s leading music streamer, Spotify. For example, as of the third quarter of this year Spotify had 144 million paying subscribers, up 27% from the 113 million it had during the same quarter last year. Since early 2017, Spotify’s subscription base has doubled. Apple Music would also be considered one of Tidal’s rivals.

Besides Jay-Z, other famous artists are involved in Tidal including Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, Coldplay, Madonna, and Rihanna. With an inventory of over 70 million songs and 250,000 videos, Tidal is available in over 53 countries ad-free. A team of experts can pick out a playlist for you, or you can play guest playlists curated by your favorite artists.

Dorsey is believed to consider Square the centerpiece of what he envisions as a conglomerate of different businesses run under one corporation. These companies would be complementary to each other but each would run separately. It isn’t known how far along the talks between Square and Tidal have gone. While Jay-Z bought the service for $57 million, Sprint’s purchase of 33% of Tidal in 2017 valued the streamer at $600 million. Depending on the premium that Tidal would seek from Square in a transaction, the value of a deal could range between $800 million to $1 billion.

When Sprint purchased its 33% stake in Tidal, then CEO Marcelo Claure explained the advantages of having musicians running the show. Claure said, “Jay saw not only a business need, but a cultural one, and put his heart and grit into building Tidal into a world-class music streaming platform that is unrivaled in quality and content,” said Claure. “The passion and dedication that these artist-owners bring to fans will enable Sprint to offer new and existing customers access to exclusive content and entertainment experience in a way no other service can.” Since Sprint is now owned by T-Mobile, its 33% stake in Tidal now belongs to T-Mobile. T-Mobile subscribers without an existing Tidal account can get 3f ree months of the service through the carrier. After the three months expires, Android users can pay $9.99 a month for service while iOS users pay $12.99 a month. Why the difference? Apple, as you might remember, takes a 30% cut of in-app payments made in the App Store.

Tidal gives first time users a free month of service. After the free trial, service is $9.99 a month. If you want to stream music in HiFi (CD quality), you can stream one month for free and then pay $19.99 a month. Those with a military ID will get 50% off the cost of a Tidal subscription for either tier of service.

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