Friday 18 October 2019

Tidal prompts wave of criticism

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Tidal, the relaunched music service backed by Jay Z and a host of other high profile musicians, has been criticised for trying to make more money from the public for already wealthy artists.

The New York rapper, who bought Tidal last year as part of Swedish technology company Aspiro for more than 50 million US dollars (£33.8 million), is said to be worth more than 500 million dollars (£330m).

Tidal is co-owned and has been invested in by a host of wealthy musicians, including Coldplay's Chris Martin, Madonna and Rihanna, and the group says they want to "forever change music in history".

However Tidal's model has been met with fierce criticism online, with many taking to social media to voice their frustration at those involved making the launch sound like a campaign for social justice.

Twitter user Daniel Paul Baptista (@dbapz) wrote: "I legit (sic) thought #TIDALforALL was some sort of save the world campaign, not a streaming service to make millionaire artists richer."

Others quoted the reported multi-million dollar fortunes of the likes of Madonna and Beyonce and asked if the artists should be portraying themselves as struggling.

In the US, many suggested that while prominent musicians joined Jay Z in a social media campaign ahead of the launch, few voiced any dissent to the ongoing social issues in the country, especially around race.

One Twitter user, referring to the shooting of a black teenager by US police, wrote: "How come all these #TIDALforALL celebs didn't band together during #ferguson but they're quick to come together to rob music lovers?"

Angela (@AngelaSwin) added: "Something very wrong with presenting capitalistic ventures like #TIDALforALL as social justice movements."

Tidal is positioning itself as the "first artist-owned" streaming service, and as a result revenue gained from each stream flows more directly to the artist. Taylor Swift withdrew her catalogue of music from Spotify last year over royalty issues, with the Shake It Off singer suggesting to fans that music is art and should not be available for free.

According to Spotify's business model, 70% of total revenue created is paid out to the music's rights holders. The Explained section of the company's website says they pay "between 0.006 and 0.0084 US dollars" per stream on average, and Spotify has said it paid out more than one billion dollars (£676m) to the music industry last year. Tidal is yet to confirm how much artists will make from each stream, but given their stake as owners it is likely to be higher.

In contrast to Spotify, Tidal will also not offer a free version of its service, something which has been credited with reducing online music piracy in recent years.

Jay Z previously told Billboard: "We didn't like the direction music was going and thought maybe we could get in and strike an honest blow. Will artists make more money? Even if it means less profit for our bottom line, absolutely. That's easy for us. We can do that. Less profit for our bottom line, more money for the artist. Fantastic."

Artists using Tidal have also been encouraged to lobby their record label to strike exclusivity deals with the service in order to generate more interest, and streams, via Tidal. Though this has been criticised for offering little to emerging artists in need of exposure and accessibility to fans.

There has also been some early confusion around the pricing of the firm's high-end "lossless" audio subscription, which was confirmed by the company to be £19.99 a month. However some users of the app this morning were being quoted £14.99 a month. Tidal has not yet responded to questions on the issue.

PA Media

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