Earlier this week, the most talented and influential names of international music met up to promote Jay-Z’s new music streaming subscription service, Tidal. Launched in October last year, it was recently purchased by the American rapper for over $50 million.
Unlike other networks like Spotify, Tidal is said to be the first artist-owned platform of its kind. Its aim: cutting the middle men, namely the CEOs and music labels in order to empower artists and creators. In real terms, that basically means help them make more money.
We’re told this is good for two reasons. Firstly, it gives extra reward to those who actually create the music we love. Secondly, the service is set to take quality a step further, giving fans better sound whilst delivering new records more quickly on release. See the promotional video below.
Truth be told, the video looks wicked, with inspiring rhetoric and futuristic imagery we know these guys are capable of producing, and we regularly enjoy. Beyonce looks hot as ever, and her quote that ‘every great movement starts with people being able to get together, and take a stand’ sounds beautifully MLK. And the Daft Punk robots look really cool too.
In substance though, there are so many catch phrases, buzz words and powerful images that one struggles to get to the bottom of what they’re exactly trying to achieve. At this point, special mention should go to Alicia Keys’ ridiculously pompous speech, during which she described Tidal as a pivotal moment in cultural and musical history. She even managed to dropped Nietzsche’s name, albeit mispronounced – good effort though.
Hidden behind the #TIDALforALL and celebrity social media banners, one takes a little while to figure out this isn’t a world changing charitable campaign, nor a movement for social justice. Among the attendees were Madonna, Beyonce & Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj, Usher, Rihanna, Kanye West, Alicia Keys, Calvin Harris and more. Between them, MTV’s very own version of the Avengers are worth an estimated 2.5-3 billion. And what they’re REALLY asking you is to cough up a little bit more.
Whilst in theory, rewarding musicians rather than managers and labels sounds a good initiative, that’s not the offer on the table. These guys all have shares in Tidal, and the service will only help a small body of already obscenely wealthy musicians get richer. It’s about taking from the poor to give it to the very (very, very) affluent.
The service will cost £20, almost double the price of Spotify. Needless to say, unlike its rival it won’t have a free option. What do you get for that? The music on offer will be of CD quality, while other streaming sites offer compressed MP3 format which impacts sound quality. Don’t you hate it when you listen to something and it sounds like MP3 format? No you don’t and nor do I, because even the most pretentious music fans can’t really tell the difference. Even if you can, earphone types definitely makes more of a difference.
I admire those artists. Their tunes make me sing in the shower, relax when I’m stressed and dance when I’m pissed. However, it is sad to see them get together over such a greedy, futile cause. Sure, world poverty and disease isn’t their burden to carry and we all have a social responsibility. But seeing all the attention they can generate overnight, one can’t help but envisage how much of a difference they could make for the life of millions, had they chosen a truly liberating and meaningful struggle.