Jay Z has the heart of a hustler. His entrepreneurial instincts earned him multiple platinum albums, his own record label, and Beyoncé. But with Tidal, Hova’s music streaming service, that hustler’s ambition may have overstepped its boundaries.
Tidal bills itself as the future of music. In the its first promo video that aired a year ago, an elite squad of the world’s most successful and popular music acts such as Daft Punk, Coldplay, and Jack White gather around a conference table in celebration of the new music-streaming app. The first spoken words come from Kanye West, one of Tidal’s biggest backers, as he prophesies, “I just thought about how crazy this is, like the beginning of the new world.”
Unfortunately, ‘Ye is far from the truth.
Besides the fully-fledged support of Jay Z and Kanye, as well as a few almost unnoticeable special features, Tidal is no different from its competition. I’m not sure which of his financial advisors told Jay that investing in Tidal would be wise, but they should clean out their desk before the end of the day.
I do not hold Jay Z entirely accountable for the soon-to-be Tidal flop. The Internet is changing the music industry. There is no longer an established norm on how artists can deliver their music to the fans. The days of purchasing hard copy units are coming to a close and the trend is shifting to online distribution.
I believe music belonging online rather than record stores is more favorable for consumers. A faint Wi-Fi connection is the only thing needed to listen to music. There is also little to no constraint on the types of music a listener can discover. By no longer depending on the radio to discover new artists, listeners can take the responsibility of developing their taste in music into their own hands. Without the Internet, I never would have known I have a propensity to enjoy Japanese jazz music as well as Swedish industrial house music.
The Internet has also made it easier for artists to be heard. I think our own classmate William Bolton is a perfect example. For 4 years now he has been releasing music for free online with the help of apps like SoundCloud and Spotify. The Internet has allowed Willy B to bring his talents to the public and has resulted in a substantial following. Without the help of record labels or managers, his hard work alone has allowed him to acquire millions of plays and his first concert tour. As a music fan, it makes me happy to see an artist’s hard work result in success. It’s a modern version of the American dream.
The Internet is also changing the way music “tastemakers” conduct their business. Marc Ecko’s Complex magazine originally started in 2002 as an exclusively print publication. It is a magazine that focuses on music culture and spotlighting artists that Complex believes the public should be exposed to. Complex sifts outs the gems, making the world of music more accessible. But as the Internet grows and changes the music industry, print publication was no longer sufficient enough to keep the public happy. Today, a vast majority of Complex’s content appears exclusively online. The complex website makes over a dozen posts a day in order to keep up and stay contemporary.
When Jay Z started Tidal, he placed a large emphasis on maintaining the integrity of artists and their craft. He planned to do this by provided fair royalties to the artists and giving consumers lossless music files. Yeah right.
Reading through the lines, I believe the true essence of Tidal is elitism. Jay Z got tired of his music being downloaded for free (a fair objection). Being that he had the power and funding, Jay Z decided that he would attempt to change the music industry in a way that would favor the already established artists.
Unfortunately for Jay, the public feels differently. Statistics have shown that music consumers are more concerned with getting music for free (or as cheap as possible) rather than watching a music video in 4k quality.
I am very excited to be a music fan at this time. I believe we are in the middle of a revolution (for lack of a better word). I think we are moving away from big business and back to the music, man.