Jay-Z's Newly Launched Streaming Service - TIDAL Causes Controversy

Business | March 31, 2015, Tuesday // 13:17
Bulgaria: Jay-Z's Newly Launched Streaming Service - TIDAL Causes Controversy Photo: EPA

Seventeen of the largely deemed most influential artists and entertainers recently started changing their social media profile pictures to light-blue blank spaces.

The massive action was in support of Jay-Z's newly launched streaming service TIDAL. The entertainer and entrepreneur, whose net worth is deemed to be close to USD 500 M, made a USD 56 M investment in the Norwegian company Aspiro in late 2014.

In what is largely considered a bold move, Jay-Z launched the service with only two premium options. The first one will allow customers to stream music in exchange for a USD 9.99 monthly fee, while the hi-fi version will cost .99 per moth. There will be no freemium option on the service, that managed to attract stakeholders such as Rihanna, Kanye West, Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Deadmaus. However, as the campaign was launched, first users will have the chance to enter a 30-day free trial period. 

"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," Jay-Z said in an interview for Billboard.

The streaming market has been estimated at USD 40 M, still falling short of the USD 57 M film industry paid service Netflix. The US share amounts to merely USD 7.7 M. TIDAL will attempt to turn online streaming into a profitable enterprise for music artists, as opposed to a service they need to invest in. It is now available in Hong Kong, UK, USA, Poland, Germany and Australia.

''Right now they're writing the story for us,'' Jay-Z stated in a promotional video. ''We need to write our story for ourselves.''


Alicia Keys made a statement at the official ceremony marking the launch of the promotional campaign for the service, saying that it would promote music and art at a new level.

The platform has been advertised as free space for musicians to express themselves, unbound by format and to get connected to their audiences.

Curiously enough, the artists present at the ceremony who expressed their support for TIDAL are mostly members of Jay-Z's production company Roc Nation - Rihanna, Kanye West, Calvin Harris, Deadmaus, etc. Many more, however, have featured their art on the platform. 

According to analysts, Spotify, Deezer, iTunes, Pandora and other freemium services, that are funded on an ad-base will pose the main competition and alternative to the paid version. The revenue in those enterprises mainly comes from advertisements.

Despite criticisms largely connected with the opinion that musicians simply want to make more money, expressed by media and regular users, Jay-Z remains hopeful for the launch of the service.

''It definitely appeals to people who really care about the music and want to hear it the way it's intended,'' he added in his interview for Billboard. ''And hopefully some day with technology we figure out how to deliver that hi-def sound maybe even in a .99 model. Who knows what the future holds."

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Tags: TIDAL, Jay-Z, music, platform, service, music, musicians, label, records, art, freemium, premium
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