Aside from being a “business, man,” Jay Z has once again made it known that he’s still a prominent businessman with his latest endeavor, a “high fidelity” music streaming service called Tidal.
Jay Z and his squad of famous friends that support the service, including Madonna, Rihanna and Chris Martin, hope that it will serve as a major rival to Spotify, the unprecedented leader in music streaming. However, unlike Spotify, Tidal comes with a price.
Monthly subscriptions for Tidal currently ring in at $19.99, which is $10 more than the cost of a Spotify Premium subscription. Now, I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds like a rather steep fee for a streaming platform. Jay Z, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have a problem with that and is certain that there’s a good reason behind the cost.
“People are not respecting the music, and [are] devaluing it and devaluing what it really means,” he said during an interview with Billboard. “People really feel like music is free but will pay $6 for water.”
He’s not wrong; some listeners do feel as if they’re entitled to free music, even with the large sums of money it takes to produce a majority of the tracks that artists release. Despite that, is the “value” of music really the fuel behind Tidal’s fire, or is this simply an issue concerning money?
According to a Business Insider article released shortly after Taylor Swift, a fellow Tidal supporter, removed all of her music from Spotify, the streaming service reported that 70 percent of its revenue goes to record labels, after which, the artists are paid a certain amount in royalties depending on what label they’re under contract with.
If Spotify regularly pays artists for their catalogues, in what way is their music being devalued? If anything, the recording industry should be thanking Spotify for providing listeners with a free, legal alternative to piracy, which still remains the biggest threat to art as a whole.
To me, Tidal just seems like another way for millionaires like Jay Z and T-Swift to generate more revenue off of their listeners. A true artist knows that money, while important, isn’t what really defines how much others value their work. The fact that they even have an audience in the first place is what should determine how much their music is worth to the public, not a price tag.
Maybe Jay Z will realize that once again in the future, but at this point, it’s highly unlikely. After all, he is a business, man.