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Square buys majority stake in music streaming service Tidal

"It comes down to a simple idea: finding new ways for artists to support their work," Square CEO Jack Dorsey wrote on Twitter.
Image: Tidal Launch Event NYC
Usher, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Madonna, Dead Mouse, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Jason Aldean, Jack White, Daft Punk, Beyonce and Win Butler attend the Tidal launch event at Skylight at Moynihan Station on March 30, 2015, in New York City. Kevin Mazur / Getty Image file

Jack Dorsey and Jay-Z are in business.

Dorsey announced Thursday that the mobile payments company Square had acquired a majority stake in Tidal, the music streaming service owned by the rapper Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, and other artists.

Dorsey is the CEO of Square, which will pay $297 million in cash and stock for majority ownership of Tidal, and Jay-Z will join Square’s board of directors. Jesse Dorogusker, Square's head of hardware, will serve as the company's interim leader.

"Why would a music streaming company and a financial services company join forces?!" Dorsey, who is also the co-founder and CEO of Twitter, wrote in a tweet announcing the news.

"It comes down to a simple idea: finding new ways for artists to support their work," he wrote. "New ideas are found at the intersections, and we believe there’s a compelling one between music and the economy."

Square said in a news release that its deal was for "a significant majority ownership stake."

The deal has been widely anticipated since Bloomberg reported in December that Dorsey and Jay-Z were in talks. The two men have also spent a great deal of time with each other in recent months in locales ranging from Hawaii to the Hamptons in Long Island, a source familiar with their relationship said.

Square will likely use Tidal to extend its financial services to musicians, enabling them to receive direct payments from fans. Jay-Z said in a statement the deal would give artists "better tools to assist them in their creative journey."

Tidal, which Jay-Z and his wife, the singer-songwriter Beyonce, and other artists acquired in 2015 for $56 million, offers subscribers early or exclusive access to music and products. The group bought it in an effort to give artists greater power over the music business.

Still, Tidal is a very small part of the music streaming market that is dominated by Apple, Amazon, Spotify and YouTube, and Square said it does not expect Tidal to have "a material impact" on Square’s profits this year.