Cynics and Tidal
The cynic in me wonders what's really behind the new streaming music service called Tidal. Click this link to read a New York Times article describing how a dozen of the wealthiest musicians own the service, though it was purchased by just one; Shawn Carter (the rapper Jay-Z). Perhaps the others lay claim to ownership in the same way my son does with the Walt Disney company, by virtue of his one share; though they no doubt have many more than he in exchange for their endorsement. Their pitch is simple: a music service for and by musicians and for the benefit of musicians. On the face of it I support this. As you may know we are preparing to release an artist's compilation where 80% of the profits go to the studio and musicians that created it. Ours is in service of music; I am conflicted on theirs. My cynic's beanie flashes "warning" when those that make the most money in music form an alliance to make more, and never address the question on most minds; what about all the other musicians? Streaming services like Spotify pay a fraction of a penny every time an artist's track is played and some make more than the cost of a cup of coffee, most do not. How will Tidal change that dynamic? By offering a whole penny, rather than a fraction? Tidal is a monthly service which consumers pay to subscribe and download: $10 for lossy files, $20 for CD quality. This feels more like a union of musicians with proceeds divided in proportion to ownership, something great for the wealthy few, not so much for the many. I believe in a meritocracy where those that are most heard receive the greatest benefits. But I fear those who we rely upon to bring well recorded new and fresh ideas have taken yet another step backwards in their struggle to earn a living performing their art; not one forward, as is implied by Mr. Carter and fellow owners of Tidal. I want to be wrong, but my beanie's light continues to flash its warning... Maybe Will Robinson is lurking in the shadows of my beanie?
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