Jay-Z recently bought the Swedish music streaming service Tidal, and along with his impressive band of millionaire friends, launched the new platform on Monday. I wanted to write something from my perspective; a music fan (particularly of the artists involved), a music consumer and someone who altogether doesn’t use streaming services. I’ve always bought my music through iTunes and the launch of streaming websites like Spotify didn’t really change that; I wasn’t being offered anything that really made me want to change the way I listen to music. It was only when I started working in this industry that I became aware of the vast benefits and issues involved in music streaming. But when a new streaming platform launches with some of my favourite artists behind it, I’m obviously going to be interested, it’s important to me because it’s important to them.
So when I saw artists like Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj and Rihanna stand on a stage together and present their new ‘artist owned’ streaming website, I asked myself what I would be getting, as a consumer, if I signed up for it? I’m a huge Beyoncé fan, and as a singer who releases an album once every two or three years, buying each album as and when they come out isn’t much of a big deal for me. But I also enjoy backstage footage and editorial content that I can get for free on YouTube and Beyoncé.com or buy concert DVDs. If these things, along with all of her music, suddenly became exclusively available on Tidal only, then there’s a 99% chance I’m going to pay the $20 per month subscription. The 1% is asking myself if that’s really fair. As an artist with a worldwide fan base of different backgrounds, is it fair to lock away all of your music, videos and film and then charge your fans to see it? Obviously artists need to make money, but shouldn’t I be able to choose which way I access their music? I guess only time will tell how Tidal is going to manage it’s content and what is really meant by ‘artist owned.’