Yes, I’m about to make an “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man” lyric reference in a lede about Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter yet again—and no, you cannot stop me. I mean, my editor can, but I digress. (Editor’s note: Go forth and prosper...like Jay-Z.)
THE POINTS IS...the line following the oft-quoted line is equally relevant here: “Just let me handle my business, damn.” Why? Well, because Jay-Z has made a business move that surely has the Black Twitter streets talking.
According to a press release sent to The Root on Thursday morning, Square, Inc. (you’ve likely seen their tiny square machines used to process credit cards at establishments if you’ve consumed pretty much anything lately) has signed a definitive agreement with Jay-Z’s music and entertainment platform Tidal. In this agreement, Square will acquire a majority stake valued at $297 million (in cash and stock), while the existing artist shareholders will hold the remaining stakes. Tidal will still operate independently within the Square family tree and Jay-Z will be named to Square’s board of directors.
“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,” Jay-Z said in a statement. “Artists deserve better tools to assist them in their creative journey. Jack and I have had many discussions about TIDAL’s endless possibilities that 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!”
More on the deal, via press release:
The acquisition extends Square’s purpose of economic empowerment to a new vertical: musicians. Artists are entrepreneurs with a dream and deserve access to systems, tools, and financial freedom to reach those dreams at every stage in their career. Square has helped millions of businesses start, run, and grow by providing them with tools needed for success. With Cash App, Square has made financial services more relatable and accessible to millions of customers, many of whom have been historically overlooked and underserved. Square sees an opportunity to leverage those learnings to help musicians find new ways to support their work and make better decisions through TIDAL.
“It comes down to one simple idea: finding new ways for artists to support their work,” Jack Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of Square (and Twitter!) said in a statement. “New ideas are found at intersections, and we believe there’s a compelling one between music and the economy. I knew TIDAL was something special as soon as I experienced it, and it will continue to be the best home for music, musicians, and culture.”
The launch of Tidal has actually inspired many in-depth (and exhaustingly cyclical) discussions and debates about a “checkers vs. chess” strategy when it comes to the way Jay-Z moves, specifically regarding his (and Roc Nation’s) partnership with the NFL, which has caused a heap of controversy and valid side-eyes thrown his way. Does this mean Dorsey took Jay-Z on a $200 date?!
Additionally, this recent acquisition adds to the complicated feelings surrounding Black-owned businesses eventually selling to established white-owned brands and companies, though it has been argued that this is typically the journey of many independent business owners, as it’s beneficial in the long-run.
Dorsey ended his Twitter announcement thread noting that Jay-Z will assist in leading affiliated platforms Seller and Cash App.
In my head, Jay-Z is currently popping Ace of Spades bottles in celebration...you know, due to his other recent partnership. He’s handling business(es), indeed.