Jay Z’s Tidal Streaming Service Has Split The Music Industry Apart – Who Is For? Who Is Against?

When Jay Z launched Tidal at a star-studded event in March, it was with the aim of saving the music business: a vow to give artists a fair share of revenue than other streaming services such as Spotify. And he wasn’t alone, either. Kanye West, Beyonce, Usher, Calvin Harris, Deadmau5, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Coldplay, Rihanna, Daft Punk, Jack White and Arcade Fire all joined him for the bash in New York, each pledging to create a fairer system for musicians.

Since then, though, its found itself a target of constant criticism. Mumford And Sons, Lily Allen and Noel Gallagher have all questioned its purpose and doubted whether it will ever achieve its goals. People have claimed its a model that only favours mainstream acts – the ones least at threat by streaming in general – and that it’s little more than a vanity project. And the public appetite for it doesn’t seem too promising for Jay Z and co, either; in April, it was revealed that the Tidal app slipped out of the iPhone top 700 download chart in the US. At the same time, rivals Spotify and Pandora, meanwhile, were charting at number 23 and seven respectively. It’s the story that’s divided the world of music – but who’s sat where on the issue? Here’s everyone from Grimes to Tyler The Creator’s takes on Tidal…

Noel Gallagher
“I think ultimately with the spiel they came out with, it was like, ‘Do these people think they’re the fuckin’ Avengers? They’re going to save the fuckin’ [world]. I was speaking to Chris [Martin] the day after, and I said ‘Are you after a Nobel Peace Prize? Is that what you’re after?’ They were like, ‘We’re going to fuckin’ save the music business.’ And I’m just sitting there thinking, you might want to write a decent chorus for a fuckin’ start. Never mind fuckin’ royalties and the ‘power of music’. Write a tune. Fuckin’ start with that. Alicia Keys made a speech that really should have been at the UN. ‘We’re all aware of the power of music!’ But I don’t think you are.”

Tyler, The Creator

“I get the concept of artists taking their shit instead of having that weird middle man,” he said. “But because he got all of the biggest names in the world, it came off as weird. I think that’s why people were turned off. He gotta get an underdog in there that’s not all Number Ones to say, ‘Hey guys, I’m kind of one of you, this is actually kinda cool.’ That’s all they gotta do, because the idea makes sense.”

Madonna
“If you’re refer to Tidal as Illuminati, you are paying us the highest of compliments. As I’ve stated before, it is another name for ‘The Enlightened Ones’ – a group of scientists, philosophers and artists that emerged after the Dark Ages. They changed and shaped the world for the better! Do the research and find out for yourself!”

Spotify co-founder Martin Lorentzon
“I would say that I have 99 problems but Jay Z is not one of them.”

Usher
“[It’s] a really amazing benchmark for something very significant in many, many artists’ careers. We’re definitely making only the starting of difference and creating a difference… I guess the ability to have a sense of control is what Tidal offers.”

Marcus Mumford
“I think smaller bands should get paid more for it, too. Bigger bands have other ways of making money, so I don’t think you can complain. A band of our size shouldn’t be complaining. And then they say it’s artist-owned, it’s owned by those rich, wealthy artists.”

Grimes
“Mad respect for Tidal! I literally know musicians who live in cars and storage spaces etc. And I know some pretty popular musicians who still struggle to make ends meet. Unless artists have a popular live show there aren’t a lot of income streams available. People have characterised Tidal negatively but I promise it’s 100% artist-friendly, and fan-friendly, since y’all have the option to pay the same rate as other streaming [platforms]. Respect to everyone involved for doing the right thing for struggling artists – this kind of thing is so important, especially for indie music!”

Steve Albini
“[It’s a] budget version of Pono… Historically, every time there’s been a new technological progression, there’s been a new convenience format [for listening to music]… So the question is, is it possible for something to be more convenient than streaming? And the answer is obviously yes. If you want your music to play at the push of a button, convenience is going to trump sound quality 100 percent of the time.”

Lily Allen
“I love Jay Z so much, but Tidal is expensive compared to other perfectly good streaming services. He’s taken the biggest artists and made them exclusive to Tidal. People are going to swarm back to pirate sites in droves, sending traffic to torrent sites.”

Jay Z
“Tidal is doing just fine. We have over 770,000 [subscribers]. We have been in business less than one month. The iTunes Store wasn’t built in a day. It took Spotify nine years to be successful. Tidal pays 75% royalty rate to all artists, writers and producers – not just the founding members on stage. Rich getting richer? Equity values… YouTube $390 billion. Apple $760 billion. Spotify $8 billion. Tidal $60 million.”

Ben Gibbard, Death Cab For Cutie
“If I had been Jay Z, I would have brought out ten artists that were underground or independent and said, ‘These are the people who are struggling to make a living in today’s music industry. Whereas this competitor streaming site pays this person 15 cents for X amount of streams, that same amount of streams on my site, on Tidal, will pay that artist this much… I think they totally blew it by bringing out a bunch of millionaires and billionaires and propping them up onstage and then having them all complain about not being paid.”