Jay Z’s Media Orchestration

1 Apr 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Jay Z’s Foray Into Music Streaming Met With Skepticism.

In case you decided to join the Russian-U.S. space expedition this week and missed the big news from Jay Z and his A-list musician pals, I can confirm that it went over big time.

Jay Z probably wasn’t expecting such a ferocious response to his plans for an artist-led streaming music service when he and other high profile owners relaunched Tidal, the company he bought for $54 million earlier this month.Madonna has defended Jay-Z’s new streaming service Tidal amid allegations the company has been designed to line the pockets of wealthy artists instead of providing a better experience for fans. Stars including Beyonce, Kanye West and Rihanna helped the rapper launch the subscription streaming service on Monday, and they have all been heavily promoting the brand on social media.

Jay Z, the rap mogul who also answers to Shawn Carter, appeared on stage Monday night with a cadre of some of the biggest names in music to publicize Tidal, a music and video streaming platform he made a $56 million bid for in January. The co-ordinated effort sparked a backlash from fans, who accused the musicians of using social media activism techniques to plug a money-making scheme, while critics have also accused Tidal’s celebrity backers of jumping onboard the service simply because it will earn them more profits than other outlets. While Spotify has asserted its dominance in the music streaming space, Jay Z’s coalition is nothing to thumb one’s nose at: with a combined Twitter following of 156 million, his unified celebrity front holds sway over the vast social media landscape, critical territory in the battle for America’s attention.

Everyone’s favorite curmudgeon Sam Biddle weighed in with a Gawker piece titled “The World’s Most Famous Musicians Just Hosted a Bonkers Press Conference” in which he caustically observed: “Only a few minutes ago, the entire music industry stood on a stage in a collective display of how rich and out of touch they are. Charging double that, as Tidal wants to do, for a higher quality (lossless) sound tier that a lot of people can’t even distinguish, seems very optimistic. But while the service, which includes a high-quality option for listeners willing to pay $19.99 per month, made a splash yesterday, many of the details are still unclear.

How much artists will be compensated for their music; whether that will be more than what competitors like Spotify pay out; how, if at all, the revenue sharing for Tidal is anything new; and whether the service will offer products other than music and videos — these questions remain unanswered. Spotify will continue to offer music by these artists for the foreseeable future, but Tidal executive Vania Schlogel framed the new venture as the streaming home for all these artists and more, boasting a library of more than 25 million tracks and 75,000 music videos at a monthly price tag of $10 ($20 for the lossless streaming option). Spotify makes no secret of the fact that it owes its dominant position in streaming to its ad-supported service. 80% of its 15 million subscribers were previously users of the free service.

Our intent is to preserve music’s importance in our lives.” But Monday’s event wasn’t so much a “launch” as it was a rebranding, says Mark Mulligan, founder of MIDiA Research. Even though labels are trying to kill or amend the free option, Tidal won’t even have one, so there’s a real question about its ability to gain traction among users.

Keys and Schlogel used language like “reestablish the value of music” and “promote the health and sustainability of our art.” Taylor Swift, whose music is available on Tidal, famously pulled all of her albums off Spotify last year, saying Spotify hadn’t been adequately compensating her. “I’m always up for trying something. Tidal’s services went online in the U.S. in October, and the company is now up and running in 35 countries and commands a 25 million-track discography. “If you’re launching a music service with a bunch of A-List superstars and you’ve got a preview video where they’re all turning up in their shiny cars and the designer clothes and stand there in an almost mystical positioning on stage, I mean the whole thing is grand theater,” Mulligan says. “And it’s grand theater to communicate that this isn’t like any other music service. In other words, music is a business they can run on a break even basis, or even at a loss, so long as it helps them sell phones or keep people inside their ecosystem. In a video posted to Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, and aired as a commercial during NBC’s The Voice, Kanye West said of the service, “This is like the beginning of a new world.” Jay Z proclaimed that it would “change the course of history.” Beyonce seemed to liken it to the Civil Rights movement or the Revolutionary War, saying “every great movement started with a group of people being able to get together and really just make a stand.” In an interview with NPR’s Audie Cornish, Pitchfork contributor and Weber State University Assistant Professor of Communication Eric Harvey said, “The video that came along with the announcement almost looked like these 16 artists at a Davos economic summit deciding the future of music in some form or fashion.” A Manhattan press conference Monday was just as dramatic.

It just happens to have a high-quality tier on it as well,” he says. “If Jay Z wants to create his own reality-distortion build, then that’s his prerogative.” Spotify boasts more than 15 million paying subscribers and had more than 60 million active users in the last month alone, according to the company website. British pop star Lily Allen previously declared the subscription-only service could drive fans back to downloading music illegally if high-profile artists begin dumping their back catalogues from sites like Spotify, which offers a free service funded by advertising alongside the ad-free subscription. They keep running towards streaming, which is, for the most part, what has been shrinking the numbers of paid album sales.” Nevertheless, Spotify’s confidence is well-earned. Cole onstage at the Tidal launch event #TIDALforALL at Skylight at Moynihan Station on March 30, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Roc Nation) Then again, someone had the foresight to recognize the PR value in leveraging all those bold-faced names to meet the needs of short form media, television news and those photo-driven celebrity rags.

The on-stage celebrity quotient, coupled with the narrative Taylor Swift created late last year by pulling her tunes from Spotify, gave Tidal all the waves it needed to be declared a double platinum success. A Tidal executive told The Times that a majority of shares in the service “would be set aside for artists.” Billboard magazine asked Jay Z specifically whether artists would make more money streaming their music on Tidal than on Spotify. Pandora’s platform is based largely on advertising, though Pandora One is offered as an ad-free streaming service for $4.99 per month. “I think that there are a number of really excellent streaming services out there who have carved out rather large audiences. All this said, Jay Z isn’t necessarily out for blood. “I just want to be an alternative,” he told the New York Times. “They don’t have to lose for me to win.” I’m not sure I see one that’s sufficiently compelling.” Tidal, which at the time of publication had not yet returned a request for comment, offers video streaming as well as audio, allowing subscribers to watch music videos to accompany their favorite songs.

Their record label decides where the music goes and who it gets held back from,” he says. “Taylor Swift didn’t decide to hold back from Spotify. Now, she may well have been completely on board with the strategy, but that was not her decision to make.” Mulligan notes that established streaming services have been criticized for not paying artists enough, but, in actuality, most name-brand services pay record labels, who in turn pay artists.

Jay Z told Billboard that he was actually open to partnering with other streaming services before he acquired his own. “We talked to every single service and we explored all the options, including creating a white label with a service,” Jay Z says. “But at the end of the day we figured if we’re going to shape this thing the way we see it then we need to have independence. And he says those streaming services can fork over up to 80 percent of their annual revenues to the labels. “You can’t really pay out much more than that,” he says. “Fundamentally, what’s changed is the way that people consume music, not that these services aren’t paying the right amount of money. Which, tick, they’ve done that,” Mulligan says of Tidal’s star-studded support. “Two, they’ve got to offer something different, something more. Tidal can offer unique editorial content, and the musicians could be able to live-stream performances and interact on a more personal level with fans, which may not be possible on an alternative service. On the one hand, artists – especially new, unestablished acts – rely on free services like YouTube, which are accessed by millions of people, to reach and build an audience that would then pay for exclusive quality content. “Taylor Swift winded her content from Spotify.

You can get it on YouTube but you can’t get it on the services you pay $9.99 for,” he says. “YouTube is the world’s best music service and the world’s most popular music service and it doesn’t cost a penny. And as long as the record labels allow YouTube to continue the way it does, Tidal, Rhapsody, Spotify, the lot is always going to be struggling, because you just can’t compete against free.”

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