Jay Z’s $US20-per-month artist-owned streaming music service, Tidal, launched last month with a star-studded presentation and the promise to “forever change the course of music history.”
Usher, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Madonna, Kanye West, Daft Punk, Arcade Fire, Beyoncé, and many others all showed up to show their support for the world’s first streaming platform owned by musicians, which will pay already established musicians for playing their songs.
But many notable artists who weren’t on-stage that day are now publicly speaking out about the ridiculous display of riches.
“I think they totally blew it by bringing out a bunch of millionaires and billionaires and propping them up onstage and then having them all complain about not being paid,” Death Cab for Cutie singer Ben Gibbard said in a recent interview with The Daily Beast. “That’s why this thing is going to fail miserably.”
Instead, Gibbard says Jay Z should have taken a different approach.
“If I had been Jay Z, I would have brought out ten artists that were underground or independent and said, ‘These are the people who are struggling to make a living in today’s music industry. Whereas this competitor streaming site pays this person 15 cents for X amount of streams, that same amount of streams on my site, on Tidal, will pay that artist this much.'”
Gibbard continued: “There was a wonderful opportunity squandered to highlight what this service would mean for artists who are struggling and to make a plea to people’s hearts and pocketbooks to pay a little more for this service that was going to pay these artists a more reasonable streaming rate. And they didn’t do it.”
But while A-listers from Madonna to Rihanna were asked personally by Jay Z to join Tidal, many big musicians were left off the rapper’s hit list, including Grammy-winning British indie rock band Mumford & Sons.
The band’s frontman, Marcus Mumford, told The Daily Beast in a separate interview earlier this month: “We wouldn’t have joined it anyway, even if they had asked. We don’t want to be tribal.”
“We just want to play music, and I don’t want to align myself with Spotify, Beats, Tidal, or whatever,” Mumford explained. “We want people to listen to our music in their most comfortable way, and if they’re not up for paying for it, I don’t really care.”
Mumford, whose 2012 album “Babel” was the highest-selling debut of the year, agrees with Gibbard’s sentiments that Jay Z’s plea to make the rich richer wasn’t exactly the best approach to consumers.
“I think smaller bands should get paid more for it, too. Bigger bands have other ways of making money, so I don’t think you can complain,” Mumford added to The Daily Beast. “A band of our size shouldn’t be complaining. And when they say it’s artist-owned, it’s owned by those rich, wealthy artists.”
Mumford & Sons guitarist Winston Marshall had a harsher stance, calling the celebrities involved with Tidal “new school f—ing plutocrats.”
Singer Lily Allen has also spoken out against Tidal, saying it will turn people to piracy.
“I love Jay Z so much, but TIDAL is so expensive compared to other perfectly good streaming services,” she tweeted to her 5.11 million followers earlier this month. “He’s taken the biggest artists & made them exclusive to TIDAL (am i right in thinking this ?), people are going to swarm back to pirate sites in droves sending traffic to torrent sites. Up and coming (not yet millionaires) artists are going to suffer as a result… my concern is that Tidal may set emerging artists back.”
“The for-pay services are deluding themselves by trying to establish a permanent monetisation of something that’s in flux,” Albini recently explained to Vulture. “The internet provides access to materials and things. Creating these little streaming fiefdoms where certain streaming services have certain artists and certain streaming services have other artists is a crippled use of the internet. If the internet has demonstrated anything over the years, it’s that it has a way of breaking limitations placed on its content.”
In the wake of the negative press surrounding Tidal, including the recent departure of the service’s CEO and 25 employees, Jay Z is still working hard to promote the streaming service.
After recent layoffs at the company, Jay Z and Jack White personally called customers to reassure fans.
On Thursday, it was reported that Jay Z and Beyoncé might be releasing a secret album exclusively on Tidal to get more people to use the service.
Despite his efforts, the rapper’s celebrity doesn’t appear to be boosting business.
“To make matters worse for Tidal, its main rivals are now surging,” adds BGR. “On April 20th, Pandora and Spotify occupied positions No. 3 and No. 4 on the U.S. iPhone revenue chart, respectively.”
Tidal launched last year and was bought by Jay Z in January for a reported $US56 million. The newly relaunched app charges $US9.99 a month for s
tandard definition streaming and $US19.99 for a high definition audio version.
Unlike competitors like Spotify and Pandora, Tidal boasts exclusive content from musicians, like Beyoncé’s recent track that coincided with her and Jay Z’s wedding anniversary. But even a peek into the superstar couple’s private relationship doesn’t appear to be enough to warrant $US9.99 a month.
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