To top
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone

It was inevitable that a new streaming platform coming from Jay-Z would receive a tsunami of press. What’s laughable is how quickly the tide turned against it. TIDAL, an artist-owned streaming service, promises lossless audio (meaning it sounds really good) and high definition video (meaning it looks really good). Seems great, right? Wrong, oh ye of too much faith.

A punching bag since its launch, TIDAL has been maligned from the get-go. For starters, there was that absurd launch event where artists like Beyoncé, Madonna and Kanye West gathered to lend their solidarity to Jay-Z’s latest venture, and to offer up their John Hancocks to some Declaration of Independence-esque document. Some of the biggest, most influential pop stars gathering to pledge their allegiance to some new-fangled tech company sounds like the makings of a half-assed “Saturday Night Live” sketch – if only we were so lucky.

Then there’s the price tag. Offering no free subscription option like Spotify, TIDAL’s base subscription price is $20, a 100% increase over Spotify’s premium plan. In a culture that already doesn’t put much stock into paying money to own music, it seems egregiously counterproductive to put that whopping price tag on simply streaming music.

Next came the deluge of bad press. Reports that TIDAL’s audio isn’t all that better than rival services, Kanye West’s not-so-subtle maneuver to distance himself from it, the company firing 25 employees, including its CEO, and fan squabbling about TIDAL-exclusive content came streaming in.

Let’s talk about that last part. Already, Beyoncé released a homemade video of her performing a new song, “Die With You,” while Rihanna premiered both the video and single “American Oxygen” on TIDAL as “exclusives.” Within hours of their release, I’d seen/heard them all. How can a service expect to thrive on exclusive content if said content doesn’t remain exclusive at all? A recent announcement that Jay Z will perform a rare set of B-sides for select subscribers, and rumors of an exclusive Jay Z/Beyoncé album seem to be attempts at a Band-Aid, but as has been proven, it won’t stop torrenters, and it won’t stop me from torrenting said material out of spite alone.

The one thing I do like about the idea of TIDAL is its commitment to compensating songwriters fairly. But when you have the wealthiest pop stars pushing a hefty price in the name of fair compensation, it’s akin to the 1% acting as the face of Occupy Wall Street. I can only imagine lesser-known artists that would benefit from this model collectively rolling their eyes at the arrogance of it all.

The music industry’s main problem is that it hasn’t been innovative enough to keep up with changing technologies. TIDAL puts on the shiny veneer of a remedy to that problem, but it’s no secret that streaming won’t be putting food on the table for the artists who need it, especially when every aspect of the service is so out-of-touch with consumers and fans that it actively alienates them. It’s a lose-lose for everyone it caters to.

Leave a Reply

We are on Instagram