What is all this TIDAL talk!?

I wake up Monday, and come into work and BOOM, we are seeing photos and video footage of some of the largest acts in the music industry, huddled around for a press conference. Of course it created a buzz, a curiosity and an anticipation for something big to come…..

Then came, TIDAL.  Announced as a new streaming service — by the artists for the artists. Owned and backed by musicians including Jay Z, Beyonce, Rihanna, Chris Martin, Jack White, Madonna, and many more, TIDAL promises to be “the future of music.”

Offering the same streaming services as other applications like Spotify, Pandora, and Rdio, they are also offering exclusive services including videos and higher quality music. The question is will this really revolutionize music, putting value back in to the art, or will it fail against the likes of free streaming?

TIDAL has yet to reveal any specific exclusive services users of the streaming site will receive, however Billboard put together a list of 8 things that are on TIDAL that aren’t on Spotify, which has proven to be its main competitor, including the promise of the following exclusive items you’ll receive as a Tidal member:

  1. Rihanna’s new single, Bitch Better Have My Money. Released last week, it is not available on Spotify with the rest of her discography – but since she is partners in TIDAL they have it.
  2. The White Stripes’ exclusive first TV appearance. TIDAL’s got their first-ever TV appearance, performing “Apple Blossom” and “Death Letter” on Detroit Public TV’s Backstage Pass show from 2000.
  3. Daft Punk’s Electroma film. Daft Punk’s self-directed 2006 film about two robots on a quest to become human has not been available for free viewing online, until now. Includes bonus footage and outtakes.
  4. Three minute Behind-the-scenes footage of Alicia Keys’ Set the World on Fire Tour at Madison Square Garden.
  5. Coldplay’s “Songs That Formed The Band” Playlist. Coldplay shares 10 songs that, “have made a clear and meaningful contribution to their own stadium-filling sound,” as the Tidal description states.
  6. Other Playlists curated by Beyonce, Jack White, Jay Z, Jason Aldean, and deadmau5. Now, Spotify does have this feature for the artists they include on their streaming site, the named stars are not among those who have chosen to create their own playlists on Spotify.
  7. Videos. There may only be 33 videos total listed in the video section, but I’m sure those will grow as/if TIDAL grows.
  8. Taylor Swift’s music. Taylor Swift ended 2014 being very outspoken against Spotify and its artist compensation. Seemingly, Taylor has made a deal with TIDAL and has included all of her albums, minus her newest blockbuster 1989.

The reaction to the news of TIDAL has been less than enthused. Fans, tech and music publishers, industry personnel, and other artists, have been extremely skeptical of TIDAL. At best, TIDAL seems to be an interesting experiment offering artists (what they seem to be fair) equity in a streaming software. At worst, it seems to be millionaire artists asking people to give them more money. In their defence, the cost of producing such a high quality product that we all hear at radio, with such little return from competitive steaming sites, can be a slap in the face.  However, will they have enough support to make it worth their time, (and likely invested personal funding into this project)?

Musicians getting paid more for the work they do is great, music should be appreciated and bought to encourage more music, like a never ending cycle. But, in this day and age when things are so easily accessible and more than often, free, how do you compete with “freemium” sites like Spotify and encourage the purchasing of music.

So is it true that nobody is buying music anymore? At the music industry’s peak in 1999 the average music consumer spent only $28 a year on music. However, in a study last year that Apple conducted they found that music consumers spent $48 per year. So, yes less people are buying music, that is true, but people are spending more money on music in general.

However, here lies the problem for services like TIDAL, if an average consumer is only willing to spend, at most, $48 a year on music, spending $120 a year is way overpriced. In hindsight, spending $10 — or even $20 for the premium — for access to almost every song created is an exceptional deal, but people just cannot make that a luxury. Maybe it’s too late and the consumers of today are already too accustomed to free music, but to say no one will pay for music, is very small-minded.

So what will this mean for up and coming independent artists? Will they be included in this exclusive streaming service, and get to make more money off of their music? And how much is TIDAL offering per stream for the artists?

There are still many more questions to be asked, and a lot more answers to be given. We will be on stand-by waiting for Jay or the others to answer them… Lets sit tight and see how/if/when this really changes the “future of music”.

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Posted in: Artist Advice, Grant Writing, Independent Music News | Tags: , , , , , , , .

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