Entertainment mogul Jay-Z’s Tidal music service is treading some rough waters, lately.
Tidal, a subscription-based music streaming service, was thought to be the future of the music business. Jay-Z, who bought out the company for $56 million, pulled out all the stops to promote his new business endeavor. He enlisted Kanye West, Jack White, Jason Aldean, Daft Punk and Beyoncé to help promote the launch of the music service.
With such big names in music supporting Tidal, why does it seem like Jay-Z’s master plan is going to fail?
Tidal is similar to Spotify, Pandora and other music-streaming platforms; however, Tidal requires a subscription to stream its music, where it is believed that more royalty will go to the artists. Spotify and Pandora have been accused of not paying out royalties to artists whose music is being streamed for free. Basically, Tidal wants you to pay money for music in order to pay the artists.
This seems fair. If I were a musician, I would not mind getting paid for people streaming my music online. In fact, it is understandable for artists to be disgruntled when their art is essentially being pirated by millions of users online. However, Tidal does not seem to have the appeal or the power to change the online music industry.
Many people, even musicians such as Mumford & Sons and Death Cab for Cutie, are against Tidal and Jay-Z. Are middle-class Americans really going to feel bad when Madonna, Beyoncé, Kanye and Jay-Z, who are all at least multimillionaires, go up to a podium and complain that they do not get enough royalties? Are we supposed to feel sorry for them?
I do not feel sorry. I do believe Jay-Z’s cause is noble, though. There are thousands of struggling musicians out there, who are getting swindled by record labels and corporations. Many never achieve success, even if their music is popular.
A good example would be the band, Tame Impala. Front-man Kevin Parker, in a Reddit Ask Me Anything, explained how even though he produced a Grammy-nominated, chart-topping album, he got zero percent of the money from sales because corporations spent it before he could even see it. This situation is not unique.
I think it would have been beneficial if Jay-Z had utilized emerging artists to launch Tidal. I would be more willing to subscribe to Tidal if I heard stories of how blossoming young artists were being completely ripped off by record labels. I do not care that Kanye West wants more money for his music.
I do not want to pay $9.99 a month for a service I can get for free in Spotify and Pandora, and honestly, incentives such as exclusive content, including a Jay-Z B-side album and a new Beyoncé music video, almost make me want to not subscribe even more.
The fact is, this exclusive content will no doubt be available somewhere on the Internet for free, mere hours after it is exclusively released. We live in a world where music is being consumed by billions of people for free, every day.
Jay-Z needs to learn that he cannot just buy a company, make some famous people say some good things about it and make millions off of it. It is not that easy. Tidal will simply be a small part of the big problem of online music streaming.
Nice try, Jay-Z, but not even Yeezus can save you from the Tidal wave of free online music consumerism.