Jay Z, Rihanna, Madonna, Kanye West attend launch of Tidal streaming service

31 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

3 reasons why Jay Z’s new Tidal streaming service is stupid.

Some of the world’s biggest names in music including Beyonce, Cold Play’s Chris Martin, and Rihanna are backing Jay Z’s new global streaming music service Tidal, which launched on Monday, and is billing itself as the first of its kind owned by artists.With the scripted sheen of one of his videos, rapper Jay Z led a parade of music royalty before reporters Monday to unveil a new music streaming service — Tidal — that it says will ensure artists get paid fairly for their work. It was a really big to-do for the launch of a streaming service, and it was easy to get lost, so here are the main takeaways: It was cool, but mostly contrived. Alicia Keys delivered a long, ornate speech about the new platform, but actually gave up little to no details about what it actually is, other than that it’s the first global music platform owned by artists, and that the program will offer curated playlists and higher quality audio than its competitors.

To underscore the point, Jay Z (born Shawn Carter) was joined at a Manhattan news conference by a dozen or so music A-listers, including his wife, Beyonce, rapper Kanye West and singer Madonna. The carefully orchestrated rollout of Tidal included a social media blitz, where celebrities such as West told his fans that “together, we can turn the tide and make music history.” But analysts said it’s not clear that noble-sounding endorsements from popular musicians could change the bottom line for most acts making fractions of pennies for their streams. “Jay Z has recognized that there’s an opportunity to bring personality and quality to streaming music services,” said Mark Mulligan, a music industry analyst at MIDiA Research. “He’s essentially setting himself up as the HBO of music streaming. The Beatles’ Ringo Starr addressed the issue with Reuters TV on Monday: “All I ever hear is that your record has been streamed 17 million times and they give you a check for 12 bucks.

But it takes more than a handful of music stars to change the underlying dynamics in the music streaming era.” Artists have been taking stands against the payment model offered by streaming services, but with Tidal, some are said to be getting an equity stake in the service that Carter bought for $56 million this month. “Our goal is simple: We want to create a better service and a better experience for both fans and artists,” singer Alicia Keys, one of the owners of Tidal, said at the news conference. “We believe it’s in everyone’s best interests to preserve the value of music.” Up for grabs are potentially billions of dollars in revenue that fans pay for music streaming every year. Singer Taylor Swift famously yanked her latest album “1989” from Spotify last fall because she didn’t want her songs offered on the service’s free version. Cole, Daft Punk, Calvin Harris, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Deadmau5, Beyoncé, Usher, Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, and Jack White were there, and they’re all co-owners. While the glitzy line-up on Monday did not directly address compensation, Alicia Keys said, “We believe it’s in everyone’s interest … to preserve music.” Tidal is offering a mix of stock and cash to its owners for promotional support, which does not include rights to the music, the Financial Times reported. Tidal is an offspring of Jay Z’s company Project Panther Bidco, which acquired more than 90 percent of the Swedish streaming music company Aspiro AB for $54 million earlier this month.

The service is also available at two plans: a $9.99 per month option which gets you the standard quality, or $19.99 per month HiFi plan that gets you the highest quality, which is lossless audio. For one thing, the average person that listens to music in the car on their commute or in their stock Apple earbuds cannot hear and does not care about the difference between 256 Kpbs (standard iTunes quality), 320 Kpbs (high quality) and 1411 Kpbs lossless or FLAC audio files (astronomically high quality). Spotify, which charges about $10 a month, has more than 15 million paying subscribers and more than 60 million active users, according to the streaming service’s website.

In November, Daniel Ek, Spotify’s chief executive, responded to musicians’ criticism in a blog post, noting that an artist as big as Swift could make up to $6 million a year on the platform. Los Angeles start-up UrRadio, which launched its service Monday, and Slacker Radio are trying to win over listeners by bringing back the experience of radio hosts and DJs. The movement in the industry promises plenty of innovation, but it could be the marketing power of big stars rather than cool features that determine which streaming services survive.

Other artists have tried to reclaim the artists’ role in music tech and streaming models before, but none has successfully upended how digital music is experienced and paid for.

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