The music industry’s top earners gathered March 30 toasting their champagne glasses to celebrate the launch of the new music-streaming service Tidal.
A billion dollar group including Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Kanye West and Madonna showed their support for Tidal. The service promises ethically responsible high quality music, at a $20-a-month subscription price tag.
Tidal attempts to appeal to the consumer’s conscience by convincing a society of music listeners who are used to free music that they owe it to the artists to pay for their art.
The hashtag #TidalForAll trended instantaneously with the launch of the service, but also received immediate backlash from artists like Marina and the Diamonds and Lily Allen, who both argued Tidal exclusively only represents the music industry’s biggest artists.
The mantra #TidalForAll is ironic when it is solely represented by the wealthy 1% and sold at a price that is almost double other services charge.
Tidal is met by competition from the widely popular music-streaming service Spotify. Tidal’s 500,000 subscribers is dwarfed by Spotify’s 15 million subscribers.
Spotify offers a monthly subscription for $10, a discounted student subscription for $5-a-month and a free service that includes commercial breaks. The company is unpopular with many artists because of how it pays the rights holders. The Spotify website explains musicians are given $0.006-$0.0084 for each stream of a song.
Taylor Swift pulled her music from Spotify in 2014 in opposition to the website’s free service. She publically voiced her disappointment with the service in an article she wrote for The Wall Street Journal.
Tidal and Spotify is followed by companies such as Apple Beats and YouTube, who plan to release their music-streaming services soon. Tidal advertises it is changing the tide of music history, but quite frankly it’s just doing what everyone else is doing for more money.
If the real issue is being ethical and valuing an artist for their work, a music-streaming service that involves royalties to multiple parties isn’t the answer.
I personally use Spotify and pay the $5-a-month student subscription fee. I find it is extremely convenient and well worth my money. If it came down to it, I would pay the $10 fee as well, but $20 for Tidal is where I draw the line. That is $240-a-year compared to the current $60 I am paying now.
An important takeaway Tidal is trying to push is the high quality sound it offers that is similar to CD quality. Our generation is so used to listening to compressed mp3 files of songs, so I highly doubt CD quality music is at the top of their list of needs.
Music-streaming services are proving to be where the future is headed, but Tidal may not be the visionary leader it hopes to be.