Uh-oh. Is streaming dead already? Let’s take a look at this article from GQ.
In October, Jay Z appeared in a Los Angeles courtroom to testify in a copyright case concerning his 1999 hit “Big Pimpin'” and experienced an embarrassing memory lapse. Asked to list his various roles, he mentioned his music, clothing line, restaurants and sports agency. “You have a music-streaming service, don’t you?” his lawyer prompted. “Yeah, yeah,” said the rapper. “Forgot about that.” It’s an ominous sign when even the man who launched Tidal lets it slip his mind.
Perhaps he’d like to forget about it. As soon as Tidal relaunched with all-star hubris in March – Alicia Keys called it “a moment that will forever change the course of music history” – the knives were out. Pretty soon, Bloomberg Business declared it “a complete disaster”. Jay Z bought the service from its Scandinavian owners for £36m as a way to make streaming benefit artists rather than tech companies, but it lost two CEOs in quick succession and struggled for subscribers. Jay Z, Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj recently headlined a special show in New York to celebrate passing the one-million users mark, but after seven months that’s an underwhelming milestone. The streaming war that has convulsed the music industry this year is not for the faint-hearted.
Two years ago, I visited Spotify’s head office in Stockholm, where I was told of its ambition to make available every song ever recorded. Spotify dominated streaming. Its rivals, including Deezer, Rdio, Google Play Music and Beats Music, offered similar features: a library of 20-30 million songs plus a “radio” station programmed by algorithms to suit each listener’s tastes, though Spotify had also introduced human-curated playlists. None of them waged star wars or bid for exclusives.