Tidal’s splashy debut comes with more style than substance

31 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Jay Z, Beyonce and star pals launch Tidal streaming serviceIn a who’s who of chart toppers, megastars including Jay Z, Beyonce, Kanye West, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Alicia Keys, Rihanna and Usher showed their support for the artist-owned, high-definition service. They took to the stage at the loading dock of New York City’s biggest post office and were joined by Calvin Harris and Chris Martin, who appeared via video link.

The fanfare surrounding Jay Z’s $56 million acquisition of high-fidelity streaming music service Tidal reached its apex on Monday when the rapper, his pop star wife Beyoncé, rapper Kanye West, rocker Jack White, and a number of other high-profile recording artists held a press conference in New York City to introduce the new company to an American audience. As a rival to streaming services like Spotify and Deezer, Tidal offers a huge back catalogue of songs and video at a monthly fee for either standard sound quality or top-shelf audio. Tidal positions itself as a high-fidelity audio service that streamed music encoded in the the FLAC format, which stands for Free Lossless Audio Codec. According to Billboard, Alicia Keys addressed the crowd from the music line-up, saying: “We come together before you on this day… with one voice in unity in the hopes that today will be a moment that will forever change the course of music history. It plans to charge listeners $9.99 per month for music streamed at a resolution of 160 kilobytes per second—a middling quality on par with the average MP3—and $19.99 per month for its hi-fi counterpart.

After explaining that Tidal was a way of preserving the music industry and its value, she called on the other artists who are all co-owners of the site after investing in it to sign a “declaration”, promising, “this is the beginning of a whole new era”. He told Billboard recently: “We saw the movement and how everything was going and figured that this could possibly be the last music format that we see in this lifetime. “We didn’t like the direction music was going and thought maybe we could get in and strike an honest blow and if the very least we did was make people wake up and try to improve the free-versus-paid system, and promote fair trade, then it would be a win for us anyway.” Explaining that all founding owners in Tidal had an equal stake in its equity, he said: “That’s the utopia.

Lossless files retain such data.) Tidal bills itself as “the first-ever artist-owned global music and entertainment platform” and promised to offer subscribers exclusive content. But with Beats Music, Apple has something Tidal doesn’t have to make it work when it launches this year: loads and loads and loads and loads of money. 6. At the event, co-owner Alicia Keys and Tidal executive Vania Schlogel outlined a business model intended to benefit artists, a response to building criticism that the economics of Spotify and similar services do not make sense for the artists in question. Last year, pop star Taylor Swift removed her music from Spotify in protest of its small payouts; all but her latest album, 1989, is available to stream on Tidal.

The lacking availability of higher-quality sound has long irritated recording artists who spend months fine-tuning a record only to see it crudely reduced to its constituent parts and piped through $15 earbuds; rocker Neil Young introduced his Pono player for this reason. But it is contested whether most listeners care enough to pay extra for audio beyond “good enough,” let alone whether their ears can discern between the lossy MP3 and lossless FLAC formats. (Experts often recommend that consumers instead spend their money on higher-quality speakers, receivers, or headphones.) To Tidal’s credit, potential subscribers can take a test where they can hear standard and hi-fi versions of five different songs and select which version they think is better. But until Tidal reveals more information about its royalty rates—or delivers must-have exclusives to distinguish itself from the pack—the company is solely banking on its star power to sell subscriptions. Sure, 50 has the Vitamin Water, Diddy has the vodka, and will.i.am keeps talking BS about 3D printing, but how many ventures last beyond gimmick stage? 19.

If consumers wanted quality and ethical origins and profit shares, then pretty much every industry from food to fashion would be completely upturned. 28. Jay Z said he hopes Tidal will inspire artists to take creative risks, as if this is the first platform that doesn’t have the constraints of time that other formats do. The musicians who really hurt are those in debt from borrowing to make their debut record, who struggle to eat on tour, who spend most of their time working other jobs when they should be rehearsal room or studio. I’m sure plenty of artists are happy with the millions of plays they’re getting on Spotify, the sales they’re getting on iTunes, and the views they’re getting on YouTube. 51. If people cared about sound quality, then you wouldn’t see so many people still using the Apple headphones they get free with their iPad or iPhone. 54.

If you can turn that huge market share into something that you can monetize, even if it is just with ads, you will end up making more money than with all other revenue streams combined.” – Kim Dotcom 65. The actual streaming service – and not the weird press conference – would have been the thing getting traction if there had been a new Kanye / Rihanna / WTT2 record up on there. 87. At least there wasn’t an attempt to build a platform from scratch, but by latching on to something that already exists, it does lessen the wow-factor. 88. I’d be interested in a PR launch that saw Spotify announcing that they were going to work more closely with artists to create a better royalty system that rewarded their musical output in a more fair way. 89.

Artists can try and take and get as much control as they want, but the label system still exists because within the labels there is still the expertise around how to break an act – no matter how much the majors have failed to adapt to the contemporary industry. An act aiming to be mainstream starting out simply can’t become a hydra that employs and manages marketing, distribution, artwork, release schedules, licensing, publishing, songwriting, production, PR, tour management, live production, etc. etc.

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