Jay Z: Use My Music Service Because... Water Is Free
But music is not, he explains
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2015 5:13 AM CDT
Jay Z performs at the 3rd Global Citizen Festival at Central Park in New York last year.   (Photo by Brad Barket/Invision/AP, File)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – Jay Z relaunched the Tidal music streaming service last night at a New York City event with more than a dozen other co-owners, including Beyonce, Daft Punk, Madonna, Rihanna, Jack White, and Alicia Keys, who said the assembled artists hoped the launch would be a "moment that will forever change the course of music history," the BBC reports. More on the service, which inspired artists to turn their social media profiles blue:

  • The big difference with Tidal, Jay Z says, is that it's owned by artists and will treat artists with respect. "The challenge is to get everyone to respect music again, to recognize its value," he tells the New York Times. "Water is free. Music is $6, but no one wants to pay for music. You should drink free water from the tap—it's a beautiful thing. And if you want to hear the most beautiful song, then support the artist." The Times reports that he recently paid $56 million for the service.

  • Tidal, which currently has around 35,000 subscribers paying $19.99 a month for a "high fidelity" service that promises better sound quality, also has a standard $9.99 option, reports TechCrunch, which says sources are claiming the service is paying artists twice as much as rivals like Spotify.
  • Including the standard service, Tidal had around 500,000 subscribers by the end of last year, according to the Guardian, which notes that unlike Spotify, it offers no free tier.
  • Jay Z says part of the aim is to make sure people lower down the food chain than artists get a fair deal. The "producers and people who work on music are getting left out—that's when it starts getting criminal. It's like you're working hard and you're not receiving," he tells Billboard. "In any other business, people would be standing before Congress. They have antitrust laws against this kind of behavior. It almost seems like when it applies to music, no one really cares who's cheated."
  • Tidal may not be able to overtake Spotify, which counts 15 million paying customers among its 60 million users, but analysts say that might not be its goal. "It is aiming for a higher spending slice of the music ­aficionado market," an industry consultant tells the Guardian. "Primarily this is about opening up new market segments, and the positioning is smart: It is creating an aspirational brand, which ties in well with the urban music community."
  • Skeptics include Sam Biddle at Gawker, who was not impressed by the "bonkers" relaunch event. The artists involved "think you are willing to pay up to double the price of other streaming music services to pay for their streaming music service, because they are crazy," he writes.