Usher calls Tidal launch an ‘amazing benchmark’

Jay Z's music streaming service was launched on Monday

Following on from the large-scale and since criticised launch of Tidal on Monday (March 30) that saw an all-star cast assemble on-stage in New York, company shareholder Usher has spoken about the benefits of the music streaming platform.

Jay Z, Kanye West, Madonna, Jack White and many more attended the live-streamed launch of the service earlier this week. Jay’s Project Panther Bidco company recently acquired Tidal from its Norwegian parent company, Aspiro, for 464 million kroner (about £47 million). Tidal Hifi offers more than 25 million songs and 75,000 music videos to more than half a million subscribers in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Poland.

In a statement, Jay’s company said of the purchase: “Panther believes that the recent developments in the entertainment industry, with the migration to music and media streaming, offers great potential for increased entertainment consumption and an opportunity for artists to further promote their music.”

In an interview with Bloomberg, Usher has spoken of his belief that Tidal will revolutionise the music industry. “Today is definitely a really amazing benchmark for something very significant in many, many artists’ careers,” he said. “We’re definitely making only the starting of difference and creating a difference.”

When asked what sets Tidal apart from other streaming platforms, Usher added, “The control. I guess the ability to have a sense of control is what Tidal offers.”

Speaking to earlier this week, Jay Z explained that Tidal’s launch is an attempt to “strike an honest blow” in shaping the future of the music industry. “We didn’t like the direction music was going and thought maybe we could get in and strike an honest blow and if, you know, the very least we did was make people wake up and try to improve the free vs. paid system, and promote fair trade, then it would be a win for us anyway.”

Unlike Tidal’s rival Spotify, there is no free service available. Jay continued: “People are not respecting the music, and [are] devaluing it and devaluing what it really means. People really feel like music is free, but will pay $6 (£4) for water. You can drink water free out of the tap, and it’s good water. But they’re OK paying for it. It’s just the mindset right now.”

The launch has been met with criticism, however, with Twitter users claiming the announcement resembled a campaign for social justice, while others asked if the wealthy artists should be portraying themselves as struggling.

“Something very wrong with presenting capitalistic ventures like #TIDALforALL as social justice movements,” posted @AngelaSwin, while Edgar Rangel quipped “guys these artists need our help! they’re really financially struggling! it’s time to turn the tide #TIDALforALL,” alongside a list of some of the musician’s reported fortunes.