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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tidal: the streaming service fronted by music's 1%

I've no idea whether Tidal, the paid-for music streaming service that's being fronted by Jay-Z, will turn out to be a winner or will quietly fade away like so many other digital music initiatives before it, but one thing I do know.

There's a fundamental problem with using performers as the public face of this kind of enterprise. The musicians who are famous enough to front such a launch are more famous for their wealth than their music. Many seem to have spent the last few years flaunting it.

There they all were lining up in New York yesterday: Rihanna, Madonna, Kanye West, Jack White, Usher, Beyonce, Daft Punk, Arcade Fire and similar. All of these people have been huge winners in their particular areas of the market. The key lesson of the internet is the Google lesson. The winner takes it all. There's very little left for anyone else.

Most people looking at that line-up of millionaires will find it hard to take them seriously as poster boys for starving artists. The people who are really suffering in the new digital dispensation are the ones not famous enough to be on that stage.