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The Tides, Are They A-Changing?


Tidal. The word on everybody’s lips and not just those of shoreline residence and vocation. No at the moment everyone is talking Jay-Z’s Tidal. A revolutionary site that streams music – what witchcraft is this? But Hova is saying that this site is different and that this site is marking the way ahead for a revolution of the music industry and how its artists are paid.

Let’s quickly by-pass the fact this is a savvy-ish business move by a savvy-ish businessman, Jay-Z acquired Swedish company Aspiro, which owns Tidal, a few weeks ago. Since then Tidal have been trying to turn Twitter turquoise with a shameless social media marketing campaign which was then gloriously crowned by the parading of Hova’s friends to sign a slightly weird declaration live on stage.

It was a full blown media extravaganza with the likes of the imperiously ignorant Kanye West, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Jack White and Rhianna all taking to the stage it felt less like a revolution and more like advertisers wet dream.

The smart money in situations like this is to back Jay-Z, he’s not made many mistakes in his career but Tidal could be the first one to wash against the shores of Shawn Carter. Tidal is announcing itself as part of the fight back against labels. To give artists more ownership of their stream rights and to pay them handsomely for it – almost double what Spotify currently pays out. These, we can all agree are great things for the industry. Artists need to be paid fairly. Fact.

There are a couple of facts we are all missing out on though. Firstly that pre-launch Tidal had approx. 35,000 users and Spotify has 60 million. Secondly, that whilst Spotify offers you an ad-filled but free subscription it also offers you a premium subscription for nearly half of the $19.99 a month you will pay for Tidal.

Maybe it is just our cynical view but it did seem like quite a lot of the current support for tidal is coming from established artists likely to highly prosper from the change in stream fees. It also struck us that most of the artists will actually just add Tidal to their current list of authorised streaming sites, only adding to their growing bank balance. The struggles of emerging from the industry it seems have not yet been solved then but perhaps as one’s head emerges from the murky pond Tidal are offering a larger floater.

All in all then, it’s a simple pay-your-money-and-make-your-choice kind of deal. Spotify has a slight monopolist grip across the industry right now and to challenge that would always be interesting. Tidal is at least offering the chance for artists to make more money from streaming than they have before. But it seems to us that although it sounds like a community project the only people who are likely to prosper are Jay-Z and his celebrity community.

Oh, we did forget Tidal will have Taylor Swift’s entire back catalogue. Win. Tidal it is.

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Jack Whatley