The modern-day music business can be seen as more industry driven, leaving executives to make decisions on what the public sees and hears. The music industry looks for upcoming artists to mold into America’s pop culture. Thus, famed and critically acclaimed rapper Jay Z hopes to change this industry-led business. Jay Z held an artist-driven press conference March 30 to launch his newly acquired music service, Tidal, which he purchased for more than $50 million dollars. The service’s partner owners include his wife, Beyoncé, Madonna, Kanye West, Calvin Harris, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and Alicia Keys.
The streaming service aims to provide exclusive music from people’s favorite artists, as well as giving more control to the actual artists themselves. Music streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify have been known to not give artists their full profit per stream, which Tidal hopes to change. With the artist exclusivity, Tidal has an upper hand in the music streaming service business.
Tidal’s marketing purports the service’s sound quality sets it apart from competitors. The app includes hi-fidelity streaming, but not all subscribers notice the difference.
“I just recently got Tidal and the quality sounds just like it does on Spotify,” said Shelley Wesser, frequent music streaming user and UAA journalism alumna. “I always listen to music on the way to and from work every day.”
Wesser used the Spotify premium service for more than a year but converted to Tidal soon after it was announced.
“One thing I did notice was the selection of music — it’s so much bigger. They actually have Taylor Swift’s music!” Wesser said.
Taylor Swift announced she will remove her music from Spotify this year because she did not feel fairly compensated for the art she puts out. A single could stream 50,000 times, but she would only receive a small stipend in return.
Membership pricing is another factor in music streaming services. A Spotify premium subscription can run about $10 a month and 50 percent off for students, which eliminates ads. For the Tidal premium service without hi-fi audio costs $9.99 monthly. Tidal hi-fi membership costs $25.99 per month.
“Artists want us to pay 25 bucks a month for their music? That’s ridiculous,” said aspiring musician Aaron Keener. “I guess it is a good thing for new artists that are just starting out — that way we can get our royalties without being ripped off.”
“I think it could have a future impact on radio,” said Frank Chythlook, operations director at KNBA 90.3 FM.
With streaming services, people are given the ability to access a catalogue of music from many different genres.
“I know there’s radio options included in each app, but it is entirely different than a public radio station itself. It’s really just up to people on how they want to receive their music,” Chythlook said.
Tidal is said to put music back into the hands of the artists, but the ultimate test is whether it satisfies the expectations of consumers.