It’s hard to start a revolution when the perceived injustice has no impact on the army being asked to fight the war. Which is exactly what Jay Z, his 1% friends, and the new music streaming service, Tidal, asked us to do on Tuesday.
If you watched the Tidal launch, you saw some of the most successful recording artists in the history of music get on stage with sloppy talking points to boo-hoo how technology has disrupted their industry. The 16 megastars appeared to be completely immune to the fact that technology has disrupted every industry from film and television, to retail, to the guy who just wants to drive a taxi. But to these artists, their disruption is an injustice and we shouldn’t stand for it. Their tunnel vision and blatant narcissism aside, the problem with them asking we the people to fight their revolution is that, whoever wins the war, consumers aren’t impacted by the outcome. We’ve got nothing to win and nothing to lose.
Like Spotify, Pandora, and countless other services, Tidal charges a flat $9.99 a month to stream music. For $19.99 a month, subscribers get a higher quality stream and access to play lists and music videos – should they not know about YouTube or Vimeo. Beyond that, you’ll find very few details on the service. Jay Z himself doesn’t know if subscribers will be able to purchase and download music through the service, and Tidal isn’t sharing the royalty rates they’ll pay out to the artists, the very catalyst of their revolution. There’s no solid value proposition as to why consumers should switch from their existing streaming service to Tidal.
It’s no news the music industry has been sucking recording artists dry for years which is why, to make up for it, and then some, they tour constantly, charging exorbitant prices for tickets, have lines of merchandise, and license their music to corporations. The latter practice made Moby a fortune. Notice how smart he was to stay a million miles away from that stage?
And then there’s the elephant in the room. If the recording artists want to win their revolution, they need to fight the real enemy: The record labels supplying companies like Spotify with the music.
Jay Z and his Illuminati Justice League have accomplished the very opposite of what they set out to do. Rather than be a champion for the truly struggling, up and coming recording artists who are trying to make a living off their music, (read: relatable people) he trotted out the richest of the rich to show Tidal is little more than a marketing blitzkrieg rooted in music industry infighting. The airing of expensive, dirty laundry.
Alicia Keys said, “This is a game-changer for real. This is for the people by the people, you know?” No, actually. It’s for the 1% by the 1%.