By: Olivia Boudreau
The music business has been struggling for a while now to create a business model in which artists are compensated fairly for their work. Artists, and all other people involved in creating music, aren’t seeing high royalty rates on their music, since actually paying for music has decreased as a result of illegal downloading and free music streaming services.
Jay-Z decided to try and change this by acquiring the first high-fidelity lossless music streaming service, from Aspiro, for 56 million dollars: Tidal. It is an artist-only owned service, with an extensive list of some of the biggest artists in the industry as owners, such as Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Beyonce, Rihanna, Madonna, Daft Punk, Coldplay, Jason Aldean, and many more. Tidal’s primary goal is to change the broken compensation system and to change the accepted limits of what is offered for streaming. By charging more for the service, Tidal hopes to generate more income so they can better compensate artists. By raising the royalty rates paid to artists, it hopes to raise the standard of what we pay for music, as well as change people’s perceptions of paying for music.
Tidal contains a library of 25 million songs, 75,000 HD music videos, curated playlists, editorial articles, and interviews. It is available for $9.99 or $19.99 a month, with a 6 month free trial, so that it is open to as many people as possible. There are lots of other competitors on the market, not only in music streaming, but also in music consumption. There are music streaming services such as Spotify, Beats Music, IHeart Radio, Pandora, and many more. There is also regular music downloading on ITunes, illegal music downloading on the internet, as well as CD’s and vinyl.
In comparison to the competition, Tidal is the only streaming service with lossless sound. Lossless sound is music that hasn’t been compressed to a smaller format, as we see with MP3s, so it is much better quality. It also offers HD music videos, expertly curated playlists and interviews. Jay Z describes it as a place where artists can put out whatever they want, not just what is on their album cycle. Tidal also offers exclusives from artists who are owners, and hopes that other artists will do the same. It also has higher royalty rates for artists. Artists need only 1500 streams versus Spotify’s 3000 streams to equal the sale of one album.
Tidal’s primary goal is to change the compensation system and to change the accepted limits of what is offered for streaming. By charging more for the service, there will be more income, which means there will be more money given to artists, and hopefully it will lead to a more sustainable business model for the music industry. Jay Z said, “If at the very least all we did was make people wake up and try to improve the free vs. paid system and promote fair trade then it would be a win for us anyways.”
The marketing campaign is described as a movement to change the music business and artist compensation. They are portraying it as the only morally-sound streaming service available run by artists themselves, unlike other services that rip them off. A social media movement was started on March 30th, 2015 in which all the artists involved changed their pictures and banners on Twitter to blue, while hashtagging #TIDALforALL and encouraging others to do so as well to support the movement. Kanye West tweeted “Together we can make music history. Show support and make your profile photo blue. Turn the tide. #TIDALforALL.”
There was of negative backlash towards the marketing campaign and promotion. Lots of people thought it was way over-the-top because they often described this as a “revolution” and the start of a “new world,” when it’s only a music streaming service that isn’t drastically different from what is offered now. There was positive feedback as well because of their mission and the fact that they have at least gained awareness of the fact that something needs to be done to change the music business to better compensate artists. Whether or not Tidal ends up being successful or not, Jay Z has at least made people start really talking about improving the free vs. paid system in the music business.
Gervino, Tony.” Jay Z Talks Tidal, Jimmy Iovine, Rewriting the Music Business Rulebook.” Billboard. N.p., 20 Mar. 2015. Web.
McCann, James.”All Talk, No Action: What Jay-Z’s Grandiose Marketing Campaign for ‘Tidal’ Didn’t Tell You.” Junkee. N.p., 2 Apr.2015. Web.