Music Industry

The Post in Which I Continue to Rail Against Jay Z’s Tidal Music Service

This is just silly. I can’t seem to stop bitching about Tidal, Jay Z’s attempt at dethroning the Rdios and Spotifys of the world while allegedly protecting the interests of artists. I know my obsession with the matter isn’t healthy (see here and here), yet I can’t help myself because I find the whole enterprise outrageous.  Alicia Keys quoted Nietzsche? F**king Nietzsche?

I apologize in advance.

1.  This author equates the new Tidal with the launching of Planet Hollywood. Remember that disaster? (Via John)

What’s the bet that Spotify buys Tidal in a couple of years time as it loses it’s shine, but maybe reaches a million customers, for $250m, thus giving Jay Z a fivefold increase in his purchase of Tidal? Maybe he will do better than Planet Hollywood after all but not in the way that he’s pontificating about; music artists won’t make any more music out of Tidal than they do out of Spotify.

Great point. I give that good odds.

2. This attempt to stem the backlash against Tidal is full of shit. It comes from Vania Schlogel, Tidal’s chief investment officer and chief industry liaison and appears in a Q&A with Billboard.

Some critics are already saying that yesterday’s announcement looked like a meeting of “music’s 1%,” that these were just superstars looking to make themselves richer. What would you say to that perception of Tidal?

I would almost say it’s the reverse of that. Ok, these are established artists who care enough about the sustainability of the industry, stepping out on a limb and doing this. Of course there are going to be people who are cynical. But look, at the end of the day, if any established artist goes out and gets an endorsement deal — no one’s gonna criticize them for that because that’s how they make money. But if an established artist goes out and steps outside of the box and says, “I’m trying something different,” that invites criticism. There is some bravery for what these artists are trying to do. Its not to fill their own pockets, it’s to create a sustainable industry.

By virtue of that definition, because that is our thesis, if we’re not treating music like a loss leader, then that’s good for indie artists, emerging artists, songwriters, producers. Music is a whole industry and it takes money. The reality is it takes money to create music. It doesn’t just happen for free. We want to make sure music continues to be made, that songwriters are able to actually write songs rather than having to say, “I do a 9-to-5 in New York, and don’t have time to write songs. That doesn’t make it a sustainable industry.

3. Another writer has pointed out the bad, bad optics of this week’s launch. This is from Music Business Worldwide.

So, Jay Z and his flush friends made a PR mistake playing the poor-me card.

Brassic artists tend to feel scarce empathy for stars wearing shoes worth more than their annual digital royalties. Especially when equity holders in Tidal actually stand to profit from their struggle.

Nice try, Alicia, but a dab of Nietzsche can’t hide the fact that these are not the most robust conditions from which to bemoan fiscal injustice.

Yet the intention of Jay Z’s woolly Avengers manifesto  – the intention of Tidal, ostensibly – should still be loudly applauded.

Artists wresting back control of their destiny. The (vague) promise of under-served talent getting exposure in the echo chamber of mainstream fandom. Creators giving fans the quality they deserve.


4. Tidal looks a lot like Spotify. Hmm.

5. In case you missed it, here’s the Tidal artists’ manifesto.

6. The coming streaming wars: Someone’s gonna die. (Via Bobby)

7. Tidal isn’t the only high-def service, of course. Deezer’s been doing it for a while–and now there’s Auricular.

8. And finally, on the top of Tidal’s “exclusive content“…

Okay, I’ll stop. For now.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37459 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

2 thoughts on “The Post in Which I Continue to Rail Against Jay Z’s Tidal Music Service

  • Don’t you do work for rdio? I feel like that should be mentioned.
    Competition is good in new markets isn’t it?
    From the sounds of it they are going to give artists more money, sounds fine and dandy to me.
    You do have lots of good points though, I haven’t seen the library they have yet, much indie labels on it?

    • I don’t work for Rdio, but I do have connections to them. Good point. And while competition is good, my point with Tidal is that their whole business plan is crazy–and the fact that they’ve botched this re-launch.


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