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.


  1. Well, Beyoncé is a bit of a surprise, but you're absolutely right.

    Not being a particular fan of any of these "artists," further reduces my almost non-existent interest-level.

  2. As ever trying to find out how you get paid as an independent artist seems lacking in info.

    The problem with Spotify and these other subscription streaming models is that say I join and pay £20 a month... they look at all the plays... oh look Jay-Z, One Direction, Madonna et al all score hugely - not that I've ever listened to them I'm over at Big Bit Train and Magenta and I'm the only one listening to them so they get about 0.001p each from my £20 whilst One Direction take £18.90... That isn't right - the way they need to change it is that only the artists I listen to in one month get my £20 split between them

  3. Most of it goes to the record company rather than the artist....contracts out of time for the artists, like in the days of changeover to cds...

  4. I don't think it works like that, Graham - Spotify just divvies out money according to your choices. If you didn't stream One Direction, they don't get the unused portion of your subscription if you didn't stream £20 worth of music in a given month.

    While I have nothing against One Direction, I hope not, anyway.

  5. And actually if all you want to do is support Big Bit Train and Magenta then presumably you could buy their CDs.

  6. A juvenile approach I know, but if Madonna expresses a preference for something I am on auto-pilot to give that something a considerably wide berth.

    In 35 years that stance has yet to let me down.

  7. "And actually if all you want to do is support Big Bit Train and Magenta then presumably you could buy their CDs".

    Steady on sir. Let's not get too reactionary.

  8. Oddly enough, we have gone back to buying vinyl over the past year, can't remember the last time I bought a CD, and not downloaded anything since I filled up my first generation i pod eight years ago.

    I stream music by listening to Radio 6, enough new and classic music on there to fill my day.

  9. The best value in 2015 isn't vinyl, it's CD.
    Just don't tell anyone on Record Store Day!

    There is absolutely no point in paying anything over £3 for a single CD now, and specials like the Kinks' 2-CD deluxe 60s releases are ridiculous value at a fiver each.

    The rarer stuff (such as The Pink Floyd's 'Early Singles CD' which I got for £9 last week) should never cost more than a tenner.

    In Record Collecting ALWAYS do the opposite of the perceived wisdom. The way to go in the 1980s was vinyl.