Tidal is Here…And It's More Of the Same31st March 2015 • 4 comments
You may have heard that Jay-Z had a little gathering yesterday. There was some hoopla about it, and he invited some friends. While this event may have looked like an awards show red carpet, it was actually the launch event for Tidal, the superstar-funded streaming service headed by Mr. Z and supported by shareholders straight out of the Billboard Hot 100. Daft Punk, Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Arcade Fire’s Win Butler, Beyoncé, Jack White, Jason Aldean, J. Cole, Kanye West, Deadmau5, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, and Usher, who each own equal stake in Tidal, all joined Jay-Z proclaiming their new, exciting, and entirely different service. In Keys’ address to the crowd she said the following:
“We come together before you on this day…with one voice in unity in the hopes that today will be a moment that will forever change the course of music history. Our goal is simple: We want to create a better service and a better experience for both fans and artists, and that is our promise to the world.”
The only problem is, nothing about it is new, nor different. The service will offer two different payment tiers; $9.99 for standard sound quality and $19.99 for top-shelf audio quality (there is no free tier). $19.99 makes a pretty costly investment for music fans, even those who are audiophiles and will likely look down on streaming as their go-to for high quality sound (especially with Neil Young’s highly anticipated Pono on its way). While artists who are vocal against free tiers will undoubtedly appreciate Tidal’s pay only options, the service, which makes many proclamations about being different, offers the same catalog as Spotify and Deezer, offers standard and high quality options, like Spotify and Deezer, so the only difference seems to be that they charge more for it and are funded by the super elite of the music industry. It would stand to reason that these musicians who are standing together, charging higher prices than anyone, stating they wish to take a stand “with one voice of unity” would pay more per stream, which has been one of the hottest debates in the history of the music industry. That may be the best part of all- they aren’t!
In summation: Millionaire musicians banding together to charge people more money for content they’re already paying less for so that said millionaire musicians can pay current rate of fractions of a penny which other musicians find offensive, insulting, and grossly unfair. Got it.
Perhaps in time Tidal will change the game but their start is unimpressive and weak, to say the least. There was no mention of helping new artists. No mention of changing payment rates. No mention of working to change the rules. Any of these people alone could do those things- all of these people together could drive huge change in the streaming game, but so far they’re running their company like they’re the Walmart of streaming. Most of these people I expect that from but I expected more from Jack White and Daft Punk.