Jay Z launched Tidal, his premium music streaming service, only a month or so ago, but Tidal has already garnered considerable criticism from both fans and the industry alike. Some people not thrilled with the high subscription prices ($19.99 per month for what the service calls "high quality streams" — basically the same thing Spotify charges $9.99 for). But there's still plenty of hype — not to mention the big names, including Jay Z himself, wife Beyoncé, and Rihanna, to name but a few — behind it. Jay Z spoke out this week to silence those who aren't thrilled with his streaming service. Jay Z insists Tidal is "doing just fine" and boasting over 770,000 subscribers.
If 770,000 subscribers doesn't sound like a lot to you, that's probably for good reason. To put it in perspective, Spotify has over 15 million paying subscribers (which doesn't even take into account the millions that use the free service they offer). And while sure, Tidal is brand new and hasn't had time to truly build their audience, some folks were unhappy with the service before it even launched. But according to Jay Z, "Tidal is doing just fine. We have over 770,000 subs," he said in "stream of consciousness" statement on Twitter. "We have been in business less than one month. We are here for the long haul."
I think on paper, it's a nice idea. I realize that plenty of artists only make pennies on the dollar for every album sold. I also appreciate that Jay Z is an entrepreneur and that getting in on the digital music business, which is where music mostly happens in 2015, but I don't necessarily believe that the motivation here is to help the fans. After all, $20 a month might seem like chump change to the likes of Jay Z and Beyoncé, but we don't know the income of TIDAL's users.
Of course, you could make the argument that nothing in life is free, and artists deserve to be compensated fairly for their work. I agree, 100 percent. But I also know that the likes of Jay Z and Rihanna are hardly struggling for cash, and that fans are more than willing to pay out for concrete things like concert tickets and merchandise. Making things that are already expensive only available to those who pay more on top of that price just in order to access them in the first place seems a bit greedy, I have to say.
Tidal isn't for everyone, but Jay Z is right — if the subscription figures of nearly 800k subscribes are correct, then it's a solid start for a service that only launched in this fiscal quarter. It's way too early to tell how it will fare long term, so we should probably avoid getting ahead of ourselves. At the same time, I hope the powers that be at the company really listen to the criticism they're receiving, like how some claim the service is overpriced and elitist, because if they want to offer a service that's unique, desirable, and actually affordable to the average consumer, they've got a long road ahead.