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Jack Dorsey's Square buys majority stake in Jay-Z's Tidal as rapper joins board

Financial technology company Square said Thursday that it has reached an agreement to acquire majority ownership of Tidal, the music streaming service partly owned by Jay-Z.

Square - which was founded by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in 2009 - will pay $297 million in cash and stock for Tidal.

The deal will also see Jay-Z named to Square's board of directors, and he and other artists who currently own shares in Tidal will remain stakeholders. 

On Thursday, Dorsey shared a photo on Twitter of himself sitting down with Jay-Z at a table covered in scribbled notes and glasses of wine.

'I'm grateful for Jay's vision, wisdom, and leadership,' Dorsey wrote. 

'I knew TIDAL was something special as soon as I experienced it, and I'm inspired to work with him. He'll now help lead our entire company, including Seller and the Cash App, as soon as the deal closes.' 

The merger will work to provide new 'powerful tools' for artists, including 'inclusive of new ways of getting paid,' the tech CEO added. 

Square is best known for its payment platform that lets people make transactions through mobile devices, and also facilitates person-to-person cash transfers on Cash App.

Jack Dorsey announced on Thursday that Square had acquired majority stake in Tidal. He took to Twitter to share a photo of him and Jay-Z discussing plans for the merger

Under the deal, Square will pay $297 million in cash and stock for Tidal, Jay-Z will be named to Square's board of directors, and he and other artists who currently own shares in Tidal will remain stakeholders

Usher, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Madonna, Deadmau5, Kanye West, JAY Z, and J. Cole onstage at the Tidal launch event #TIDALforALL at Skylight at Moynihan Station on March 30, 2015 in New York City 

Tidal will operate as a distinct entity alongside the point-of-sale hardware and software offerings of San Francisco-based Square.

Dorsey said of the deal: 'It comes down to a simple idea: finding new ways for artists to support their work. 

'New ideas are found at the intersections, and we believe there's a compelling one between music and the economy. Making the economy work for artists is similar to what Square has done for sellers.' 

He added: 'Square created ecosystems of tools for sellers & individuals, and we'll do the same for artists. 

'We'll work on entirely new listening experiences to bring fans closer together, simple integrations for merch sales, modern collaboration tools, and new complementary revenue streams.' 

Tidal has presented itself as the artist-friendly alternative to other music streamers, and Square says it will take that phenomenon further for musicians just as it has for businesses with its payment systems.

In a statement he also shared on Twitter, Jay-Z called Dorsey one of the 'greatest minds of our time.' 

'I said from the beginning that TIDAL was about more than just streaming music, and six years later, it has remained a platform that supports artists at every point in their careers,' the Heard About Us rapper said on Thursday morning.

'Artists deserve better tools to assist them in their creative journey.'

'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. This shared vision makes me even more excited to join the Square board.

'This partnership will be a game-changer for many. I look forward to all this new chapter has to offer!' 

Jay-Z - whose real name is Shawn Corey Carter - bought Tidal from Europe-based Aspiro in 2015 in a deal valued at slightly more than $56 million, and sought to use the platform to give artists more control over their work.

Owners include several other high-profile artists, including Madonna, Rihanna and Jay-Z's wife, Beyonce. Tidal has listeners in more than 56 countries and relationships with more than 100 labels and distributors.

But Tidal has struggled to compete against much larger streaming services such as Spotify and Apple. The privately-held company had three million paying subscriptions in 2016, when it last disclosed figures.

Jay-Z surprised fans in December 2019 by moving his music catalog back to Spotify after a two-year hiatus.

In a statement he also shared on Twitter, Jay-Z called Dorsey one of the 'greatest minds of our time' and asserted that artist 'deserve better tools to assist them in their creative journey'

Dorsey has long been a fan of the platform, taking to Twitter in 2015 soon after Tidal was first acquired by the rap mogul and his legion of top music acts.

'I appreciate & respect people who depart from their strengths and take on new challenges,' Dorsey said in April 2015. 'Been using Tidal & dig it!' 

And the Tidal deal is not the first that Dorsey and Jay-Z have made together. 

Last month, Dorsey announced on Twitter that they were both endowing a Bitcoin trust to fund development in Africa and in India. 

The pair have built a close relationship over the last few years, with Jay-Z and Beyoncé seen on a yacht with Dorsey in August 2020.

The pair have built a close relationship over the last few years, with Jay-Z and Beyoncé's seen on a yacht with Dorsey in August 2020 

Last month, Jack Dorsey announced on Twitter that he and Jay-Z were endowing a Bitcoin trust to fund development in Africa and in India

Jay-Z's move into financial services is just the latest in a diverse array of business ventures for the 51-year-old rapper.

He founded Roc Nation in 2008 - an entertainment agency with offices in New York City, London, Nashville, and Los Angeles. 

The label now reps Mariah Carey, Rihanna, Megan Thee Stallion, Normani, Big Sean, DJ Khaled, Fabolous, The-Dream, Lil Uzi Vert, Robin Thicke, Jaden, and Meek Mill. The agency also has a sports management firm.

Jay-Z also owns apparel company Rocawear and sports bar chain the 40/40 Club.

Just last December Roc Nation announced that it was starting a publishing imprint with Random House called Roc Lit 101. 

Among the initial releases for next summer: 'Till the End,' a memoir by the retired pitching star CC Sabathia; and music journalist Danyel Smith's 'Shine Bright,' a story of Black women in music that combines memoir, criticism and biography.

Future releases will include a book by Meek Mill on 'criminal justice and survival,' memoirs by rappers Yo Gotti and Fat Joe and fantasy fiction from rapper Lil Uzi Vert, along with everything from cookbooks to children's stories.

Dorsey has long been a fan of the platform, taking to Twitter in 2015 soon after Tidal was first announced by the rap mogul and his legion of top music acts

This combination photo shows the logo for a new imprint for Roc Lit 101, left, and Jay-Z, founder of Roc Nation, who announced the imprint with Random House in December

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