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Square Buys Tidal, Explaining Jay-Z and Jack Dorsey’s New Friendship

Jay-Z and Jack Dorsey, from friends to business partners. Photo-Illustration: Vulture and Getty Images

Well at least this explains that Hamptons boat trip. Tidal, Jay-Z’s exclusive streaming service, has been sold to Square, the point-of-sale services company cofounded by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Square purchased the streaming service for $297 million, and Tidal co-owner Jay-Z will now sit on Square’s board. (Hopefully he can get time off for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction.) “Square and TIDAL will continue to empower artists and create a more sustainable, collaborative, and beneficial music industry,” the companies said in a statement announcing the deal. In a series of tweets, Jay-Z called the deal “a game-changer for many.” “Jack is one of the greatest minds of our times, and our many discussions about TIDAL’s endless possibilities have made me even more inspired about its future,” he wrote. “This shared vision makes me even more excited to join the Square board.”

Dorsey tweeted that the deal began from “a simple idea: finding new ways for artists to support their work.” “Given what Square has been able to do for sellers of all sizes and individuals through Cash App, we believe we can now work for artists to see the same success for them, and us,” he added in another tweet. “We’re going to start small and focus on the most critical needs of artists and growing their fanbases.” Dorsey also said Jay-Z’s new spot on the board will touch the entire company, not just Tidal. And he tweeted it all alongside a Tidal playlist from Jay-Z, “celebrating artists and the entrepreneurial spirit,” featuring songs like Drake’s “Started From the Bottom,” Puff Daddy’s “Victory,” and Frank Sinatra’s “Come Fly With Me.”

Jay-Z bought Tidal in 2015, touting the service as artist-owned alongside other musicians including Rihanna, Kanye West, and his wife, Beyoncé. Jay-Z previously sold a third of the company to Sprint in 2017; he bought back the shares he sold from T-Mobile, which now owns Sprint, last week, per the New York Times. Jesse Dorogusker, the Square executive stepping in to lead Tidal, told the Times Dorsey and Jay-Z began discussing the deal “a few months ago.” Which, of course, lines up with that late-August Hamptons hangout.

Square Buys Tidal, Explaining Jay-Z and Jack’s Friendship