"Everyone here is that term...'icon'." - Jay Z
"It's about bringing humanity back to being an artist" - Madonna
"A moment that will forever change the course of music history" - Alicia Keys
"..." - Daft Punk
Thus begins a completely "ego-less collaboration" between Jay-Z, a merry band of popsters (conveniently representing the richest 1% of recording artists), and you, the music consumer. Tidal
- Jigga's $56 million entry into the weird wild world of music streaming - launched with a bizarre presser in New York City yesterday.
Arcade Fire, Beyonce, Daft Punk, Jack White, Jason Aldean, J Cole, Kanye West, Deadmau5, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Usher, and Hova himself all carved out time to line up silently on stage, awkwardly chuckling (we presume over their own perceived greatness) while Alicia Keys delivered a nonsensical "keynote", referencing both Jimi Hendrix and Nietzsche in the process. For Keys, this wasn't her corporate carousel ride. Remember when she was Don Draper over at BlackBerry? Yeah, neither do I. After a year "on the job", the lure of her iPhone must have been too bright (we don't blame her). But hey, she made bank!
Everyone then signed a "declaration" (of what exactly?) - 56 year old Madonna propping her leg up on the table while signing 'cause, she's still got it, right?? This here historic moment was awkward as hell.
But, every great movement started with a group of people getting together to make a stand...this one being against the evil, artist-eating monstrosity that is Spotify. "Criminal" is the word Jay Z uses to describe its business model... a model that's been debated endlessly for its merits or lack thereof. For $20 a month, Tidal offers high quality, loss-less streams and exclusive content. Also, it's "artist owned" (but also somehow publicly owned?) so you can sleep better at night knowing Tidal presumably puts more money in participating artist's pockets than the competition.
But why on earth would consumers spend twice as much as they're currently spending? Spotify is damn near ubiquitous with 60 million users, and Beats Music will be there the moment Apple decides to install it across their entire user base with their next IOS update. Tidal is entering the game a bit late.
None of this takes the power of money and marketing into account either. Spotify is huge, well-funded, and deep-pocketed, with multiple interests preventing it from failing. Beats is owned by the world's richest corporation. And then there's Deezer, which Len Blavatnik sank several million dollars into. Blavatnik, who also owns Warner Music, is worth 19.9 BILLION dollars. Jay Z has some dough of course, but his arms might be too short to box with the Gods here.
What Tidal does have is star power, but is it, coupled with feel good "artist-owned" vibes enough to overcome an already cluttered cast of competitors have? #TidalforALL? Probably not...
Of course who wins and loses ultimately doesn't matter if you're the consumer. The golden age of streaming is upon us. We've got: Beats, Pandora, YouTube, Deezer, Rhapsody (seriously, they are still around...my own brother uses it!), GooglePlay, Amazon Prime. Let's even lump outliers like Soundcloud, Bandcamp, and uhhh...Neil Young's Pono Player into the mix. And now there is Tidal.
Variety. Different strokes, for different folks. In a way, it's kind of like having your favorite record store all over again, right? OK, maybe not. But YOU, the music fan, are the clear winner in all of this...even if you decide to side with the richest 1%.