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Tidal launches new Discovery feature and promises to promote unsigned artists

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The service will help promote unknown musical acts with a series of 'exclusive' concerts

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Jay's new music service, Tidal, has come under fire for being an out-of-touch attempt to get some of music's biggest names even more money. The star-studded launch event, where many very wealthy celebrities gathered to talk about why their music should no longer be free, rubbed many people the wrong way. But today Tidal is trying to reinforce its status as a platform by artists and for artists, launching a Discovery section that it says will make it easy for unsigned acts to reach the audience they deserve.

"Most talented artists don’t get the break they deserve."

"Some of the best music in the world is the music we never hear, because sometimes the most talented artists don’t get the break they deserve," the company said in a statement. "The highest quality releases will be featured in monthly Tidal playlists and be promoted along with Tidal exclusives. To support Discovery, Tidal will actively engage in the marketing and promotion of new talent including staging a series of Discovery concerts across the country featuring some of the top streaming Discovery artists."

For now Tidal will rely on two digital distributors, Phonofile and Record Union, to manage the legal rights and payments for these unsigned artists. The company offered few details on exactly how the business would work, saying only that Discovery "makes it beneficial for unsigned artists to release their music through streaming" and that "artists can select their preferred royalty structure." Sources familiar with the deal say royalties could be as high as 75 percent, with Tidal taking no cut or ownership rights.That figure climbs to 92 percent if artists choose to pay a small annual fee.

Tidal currently has less than 800,000 subscribers

Unsigned and independent artists can and do use streaming services like Spotify and Rdio to distribute their work, along with alternative platforms like SoundCloud. Tidal is hoping that by throwing the marketing muscle of its megastars behind these bands, it can differentiate itself and attract the best young talent. For now, however, it has less than 800,000 subscribers, so being featured on the service won't equal massive exposure. But hey, getting your music next to exclusives from Beyoncé and Jack White certainly can't hurt.