If you haven’t already seen the wave of baby blue Twitter cover photos or trending topic #TidallforAll allow me to fill you in on Jay-Z’s latest venture in the music business world. Jay-Z a few months back low key bought an online music streaming service called Tidal. The parent company that made the sale is called Aspiro, a Norwegian media technology company that specializes in web based media services. The price tag on Tidal? 56 million dollars! If anyone could shell out this much cash, its Jigga man.
In essence, Tidal is a music streaming service similar to Spotify but instead of being run by old white CEO with profit driven intentions, it’s run by artists. Why is this relatively important? Well, there has been a lot of heat surrounding Spotify (of course there are other streaming services with a similar model but they are practically nonexistent in terms of market share); all of which having a lack of artist compensation. Each time Spotify plays a song, your favorite artist gets roughly 0.6 cents. So at that rate, one song would need to be played around 166 times for the artist to earn $1 off that song. This is peanuts compared to the millions the record labels and of course Spotify rakes in.
Tidal got rolled out in the the most grandiose way possible last week. Along with principal owner Jay-Z, a variety of influential artists on board as co-owners unveiled the new streaming system. These artists include Madonna, J. Cole, Kanye West, Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Calvin Harris, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Chris Martin, Jack White, Daft Punk, Deadmau5 among others. The press conference had a few moderately motivational speeches and they wrapped it up by signing a contract that looked more like a music illuminati Declaration of Independance than anything. Peep the video below for a look into the press conference to see what I mean.
As you can clearly see everyone is gung-ho about the company pitching itself as “the first artist-owned global music and entertainment platform” and in turn promising to give shares to other musicians too. So how much will artists get in return for having their music streamed on Tidal exactly? The amount is still not 100% clear; but it will be definitely more than the likes of Spotify. Check out this tweet sent out by Tidal in response to this very question.
So is Tidal the future of music streaming? Not exactly. Tidal, unlike Spotify, isn’t free. There are no free options for you to stream music; so if you want Tidal you’re going to have to pay for it. It is going to run you either $9.99 or $19.99 a month depending on what version and level of service you choose. Okay, so what are you getting for your money? As Tidal has outlined it right now, not much. They claim offer a superior sound quality with each track they stream but honestly, who cares. The intentions behind this are good but in order to experience the “high fidelity sound” you would need to be listening through an extremely high end speaker system. So if you’re wearing those standard Apple earbuds or anything of that nature, it doesn’t really matter.
They are also offering editorial content, curated playlists and artist exclusives. Again, good intentions but flawed in reality. The editorial content can really be found anywhere (I’m guessing it will be album reviews and artist profiles), comparable curated playlists can be found on Google with on search and the artists exclusives are bound to leak onto the rest of the Internet within hours. So as it sits right now, Tidal has roughly around 500,000 paying customers whereas Spotify has over 10 million. One sided? You bet. Plus, we haven’t even factored in YouTube which serves as millions of peoples’ music stream service.
So all in all is Tidal destined for music streaming greatness? Probably not. But who knows, stranger things have happened and the service might prove to be worth every penny. But at this very moment, with all the competition, the cost and lack of innovation, it doesn’t look promising.