When Tidal – the Hi-Fi streaming service that Jay-Z invested in and relaunched – made its viral debut last month, music listeners everywhere wondered whether it was worth the steep monthly fee of $20.
After visually breaking down the differences in streaming services, we would say no. Tidal probably isn’t worth your money.
But the other main component to Tidal, one that could significantly differentiate it from competition like Spotify, is the fact it promotes ‘artist ownership’ in a music industry continuing to struggle with physical sales.
And that’s why the Tidal press conference, or A-list pow wow, had the likes of Madonna, Jack White, Daft Punk, Alicia Keys, Kanye West, Rihanna, Arcade Fire, Calvin Harris and Nikki Minaj on stage next to Jay-Z and Beyonce.
However, as we touched on in looking at Tidal’s difference in quality, getting together music’s wealthiest figures on a stage doesn’t exactly promote equal profit distribution among artists.
So it comes as no surprise to see Mumford and Sons say as much when they criticized Tidal yesterday.
[quote_box_center]”We wouldn’t have joined it anyway, even if they had asked. We don’t want to be tribal,” Marcus Mumford said. “I think smaller bands should get paid more for it. Bigger bands have other ways of making money, so I don’t think you can complain. When they say it’s artist-owned, it’s owned by those rich, wealthy artists… I don’t want to align myself with Spotify, Beats, Tidal, or whatever. 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.”[/quote_box_center]
There you go. We’ll never know if Mumford and Sons would have joined a Tidal that was more aligned to all artists, but I would have to guess they’d at least consider it.
As it currently stands, Tidal wasn’t created to benefit all artists. And earlier today, it came out that Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie took Mumford’s comments one step further – predicting Tidal will fail because of this massive oversight.
[quote_box_center]”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,” he continued. “And they didn’t do it. That’s why this thing is going to fail miserably.”[/quote_box_center]
This is the bigger point. Tidal could have offered something that was legitimately different in a oversaturated streaming market, but they didn’t. Some people will pay for the higher quality, yes, but how many more would have paid for Tidal if they knew it was truly benefiting every artist?
Like Gibbard said, it’s a huge missed opportunity. Considering Spotify (the king of streaming services) was just valued at $8.4 billion, it looks like a costly miss.
Especially because artists hate Spotify. And Tidal could have been the ‘anti-Spotify’ streaming service, had they taken advantage of that fact. It would have benefitted artists, and fans (and their wallets) would have appreciated it.
In the end, getting some of the world’s most famous musicians on a stage together will only take you so far.