Streaming is the future of the music industry. Anyone who doesn’t see that either simply doesn’t want to see it, or is living off-the-grid in North Dakota. The problem is, the streaming space is too crowded – we have Deezer, Rdio, Rhapsody, Spotify, Google Play, a forthcoming Apple service, and now Tidal, among others, to choose from – an array of options mostly presenting the same music for roughly the same price.
Tidal, a Swedish company that began as a loss-less (CD-quality) streaming service last year before its purchase in December by Jay-Z, has had a lot of backlash in the past two weeks since Jay-Z’s public relaunch of the service, alongside other notable artists like Madonna and Jack White. Tidal claims that the company better serves the artist community, and pays higher rates than the others. Now with two tiers of pricing, standard at $9.99/month (just like the others) and premium hi-fi at $19.99, Tidal has been dismissed as too expensive and benefitting already wealthy artists.
The problem with these complaints is that detractors aren’t seeing Tidal for what it is – whether or not the owners are already wealthy, they ARE at least artists, and surely have the artistic community more in mind than say, a tech entrepreneur like Daniel Ek, who mostly wants to see his service go public and cash out – money made on the backs of artists. Further, the service is trying to target a community of audiophiles with its hi-fi option, in recognition that not all music listeners are the same, wanting the same services at the same prices.
Tidal may not be for everyone. Detractors have decried its policy of exclusive releases (something for which Netflix and HBO are widely heralded!). But despite the criticism, at least it represents someone doing something different in the space, and that may result in progress for all.