Jack White defends his involvement with Tidal: ‘Don’t devalue musicians, support them’

Singer stands up for maligned streaming service in Q+A with fans

Jack White has defended his role with Tidal, the music streaming company part-owned by Jay Z.

White was among the big name musicians who helped launch Tidal this year and appeared at the launch event alongside Madonna, Kanye West, Daft Punk and Beyonce.

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Tidal’s intent, Jay Z has previously claimed, is to give artists a fairer share of revenue than other streaming options, such as Spotify. However, Tidal has found itself as a target of criticism, with the likes of Mumford & Sons, Steve Albini, Lily Allen and Ben Gibbard recently sharing their views on the matter. Their criticisms included suggestions that its model will only favour mainstream acts, and that it’s little more than a vanity project.

White tackles these criticisms in a Q+A with fans about Tidal on his Third Man Records website. Asked whether or not it’s fair to charge a premium price for access to music is fair, White responds: “How much did you pay for that last movie you saw at the theatre? And how much did that movie cost to make? Don’t devalue musicians man, support them. Making records is expensive, believe us, I don’t see people saying we should go to the movies for free, or Netflix should be free. That state of music is in flux, be on the side of supporting creativity, not taking from it. this gives you that chance.”

The musician also took a shot at YouTube when answering a question about the amount of money artists make from other streaming services. “Yep, whoever started the model of making a website that gets paid by big advertisers [YouTube] and does not pay that money to the artists generating the interest. Makes no sense to an artist trying to survive.”

White also stated that he wants unknown and under appreciated artists to find an audience on Tidal, responding to the idea that the service is only for artists who are already established. “Unknown musicians don’t have a voice being heard, I want those artists to make a living at being artists so more great music can happen,” he says.

Jay Z himself recently took to Twitter to defend Tidal, claiming that “big companies” are “spending millions on a smear campaign” against it. The rapper wrote, “We are here for the long haul. Please give us a chance to grow & get better… We made Tidal for fans. We have more than just music. We have video, exclusive concerts, tickets for events early, live sports… Tidal is where artists can give their fans more without the middlemen.”

He added, “Tidal pays 75% royalty rate to ALL artists, writers and producers – not just the founding members on stage… Our actions will speak louder than words. We made Tidal to bring people the best experiences… and to help artists give that to their fans over and over again.”