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TIDAL ditches direct artist payouts to ramp up ‘higher impact’ support for new talent

Tidal has confirmed that it is scrapping its Direct Artists Payout (DAP) programme just over a year after launch, promising instead to ramp up investment in emerging artists.

Tidal’s Direct Artist Payout scheme was introduced in November 2021 to serve as a more user-centric system for streaming royalties, whereby up to 10% of each Tidal HiFI subscriber’s monthly fee would be re-directed to their most-streamed artist. To date, it has been enrolled over 70,000 artists and distributed around $500,000 in payouts.

However, Tidal CEO Jesse Dorogusker has taken to Twitter to explain why the company is ceasing the programme and how it intends to commit further to its Tidal Rising scheme for emerging talent through increased investment and promotion of new artists.

“TIDAL's purpose is economic empowerment for artists,” he wrote. “So finding new ways for artists to support their craft drives what we are building, in streaming and beyond. In 2021, we started a creative and first-of-its-kind experiment toward this goal: Direct Artist Payouts (DAP). With DAP, we pay artists directly (beyond royalties) in a fun way that connects fans’ listening to their top artists’ pay. We enrolled 70K artists & distributed $500K, far short of our goal. We’ve decided to end DAP and do something w/ higher impact. Here’s why & what’s next.

“The DAP program focused only on a listener’s #1 artist, which left much, much less room for emerging artists to get paid. Starting April, we’ll no longer commit a % of HiFi Plus membership to top-listened artists. Instead, we’ll sharpen our focus on Tidal Rising. Changing course means we will put more funds (>10x what we distributed via DAP) into the Tidal Rising program — backing and celebrating emerging artists through education, custom promotion, and future direct-funding, so they can build and grow their careers in music. You can expect to see more high-impact activations like our recent ‘TIDAL RISING x Atlanta’ where TIDAL provided four Georgia acts with documentaries, billboards, TV coverage, and an opportunity to play for and connect live with their biggest fans.

Our HiFi Plus tier still pays artists more than others; that’s why we have it. Jesse Dorogusker, CEO, Tidal

“Our HiFi Plus tier still pays artists more than others; that’s why we have it. As a TIDAL member, you get 100m songs with the best sound and ‘My Activity’ will still show your top artists (some of my recents: The Beatles, Lolo Zouaï, Stevie Wonder, Liz Phair). To artists: the TIDAL team continues to experiment with ways to unlock better economic value from streaming for you. To our loyal TIDAL members: thank you for being fierce music fans and artist advocates while we continue to build the best home for music and culture.”

Launched in 2015, Tidal Rising landed with a mission statement to back emerging artists with “education, custom promotion and direct-funding, so they can grow, thrive, and build their careers with purpose and confidence”. Amongst the artists it has supported to date are Alessia Cara, 21 Savage, A Boogie wit da Hoodie, Mr Eazi, Chloe x Halle, Joy Oladokun, Dua Saleh, KIRBY, Tifa, Joeboy, Maria Isabel and many more.

In addition to profiling Tidal Rising artists via playlisting and album and video of the week promotions, it also produces live sessions and documentaries on Rising talent.