With Tidal relaunch, Jay Z doubles down on streaming for audiophiles

Tidal offers CD-quality streaming music across mobile and the desktop

Tidal's logo.

Tidal's logo.

Tidal, the Jay Z-owned streaming service built around high quality tracks, is relaunching in a move that could give consumers a new option when weighing competitors like Spotify or Pandora.

The revamped Tidal went live on Monday at 5pm US Eastern time, as indicated by a large countdown timer that dominates its homepage. A company spokesman confirmed the relaunch plan but declined to comment further on how Tidal's service might change. It's reasonable to speculate that the new Tidal may feature lower pricing, new app functions, or an expansion of its existing database of 25 million "lossless" CD quality songs.

Tidal's ad-free flagship service currently costs $19.99 per month, and can be accessed on the desktop, iOS, Android and home audio players like Sonos. A version offering standard sound quality costs $9.99 per month. Ad-supported services from competitors like Spotify, Pandora, Rdio and Deezer are free, although premium versions without ads cost around $9.99 per month or less.

Tidal launched its high fidelity-oriented service last year, betting there's a large enough audience of music fans willing to pay more for better sound quality. Musician Jay Z bought it as part of a $56 million acquisition of Swedish company Aspiro, announced earlier this month.

Tidal has sought to distinguish itself from competitors by claiming to be the only that combines high quality audio with high definition music videos and with editorial content around music interviews and features.

But there's a crescendo of competition. Google now offers its own Google Play Music streaming service, and Apple is said to be developing a new version of the Beats streaming service it acquired from that company. There's also Deezer, which offers its own high fidelity streaming service.

But as streaming has grown, so too have complaints from artists that it doesn't generate enough revenue for them. Tidal, however, has the backing of some major artists like Taylor Swift, who pulled her music from Spotify late last year over royalty issues.

With the relaunch, Jay Z might be looking to position Tidal, above all, as the service with the strongest support of artists.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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