Tidal, the streaming-music subscription service launched by Jay Z, is expanding its content mix to include original scripted and unscripted programming.
The company has ordered two new series: Brooklyn street-life drama “Money & Violence” season 2 (pictured above), with new episodes slated to premiere in January; and “No Small Talk,” a series profiling up-and-coming comedians, which bows Nov. 3.
Tidal already offers a selection of exclusive video content, including more than 70 music videos, short films and on-demand videos of past livestreams. That’s in addition to the core offering of some 36 million songs and 86,000 music vids.
Tim Riley, Tidal’s senior VP artist and label relations, said the strategy is a natural next step to enhance the service’s value to subscribers — and provide a platform for creators, talent and audiences underserved by existing outlets. “If someone is paying for Tidal, we want that to be the best experience they can have,” he said.
Other original video content in Tidal’s pipeline includes a profile series on emerging musicians and sports-related shows, said Riley, a former music exec with Activision Blizzard.
The move comes as Tidal, backed by prominent artists trying to nurture an alternative to big music labels, struggles to compete in the burgeoning streaming-music landscape against competitors like Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube. Tidal, which publicly launched in late March, has been hit with layoffs and CEO shakeups. Jay Z last month met with Samsung Electronics execs in Silicon Valley, prompting speculation of an acquisition or partnership.
Tidal ordered season 2 of “Money & Violence” after creator and star Moise Verneau self-funded the first series and uploaded it to YouTube, where the show gained a following. The 12-episode second season will be available exclusively on Tidal on for one week prior to wider distribution. Currently, Tidal offers all episodes of “Money & Violence” season 1 plus exclusive access to extras and commentary.
The urban drama centers on a group of thieves and drug dealers in Flatbush – “people society would label as the bad guys,” Verneau said – to provide a realistic look at daily life in the community. “It was a project of passion,” said Verneau. “This was something I put forward because I thought there was a voice missing for the younger generation.”
Comedy series “No Small Talk” is hosted by DJ and TV personality Cipha Sounds, produced exclusively for Tidal. It will initially comprise five episodes of 25-30 minutes each.
Each episode will profile three young comedians performing at Manhattan’s Comedy Cellar, “the next guys I think will blow up,” Cipha said.
“I didn’t want it to feel polished like the standup specials you see on TV,” he added. “My goal is to help new guys get known, like Def Comedy Jam set up a lot of people’s careers.”