What Jay Z and Tidal Need To Do To Truly Change The Music Industry


Yesterday, 16 of the biggest names in music gathered together on a stage in New York City to announce their new, artist-owned, streaming service Tidal: Jay Z, Beyonce, Rihanna, Kanye West, Jack White, Arcade Fire, Daft Punk, Usher, Nicki Minaj, Chris Martin of Coldplay (who videoed in), Calvin Harris (who also videoed in), Alicia Keys, deadmau5, Jason Aldean, J. Cole and Madonna.

Jay Z acquired the Swedish streaming service (and parent company Aspiro) earlier this month for $56 million.

Of the 16, Alicia Keys was the only one who spoke to the small audience at Skylight at Moynihan Station. She gave an impressively memorized speech which touched on many of the same themes as the “declaration” which the artists ceremonially signed one by one.

I want Tidal to succeed.

And they’re definitely onto something.  They understand fans want exclusive content.  And will pay for it.  Nielsen revealed in a 2013 study that music’s biggest fans would spend up to $2.6 BILLION more a year if they had opportunities to buy exclusive content, behind the scenes access and VIP experiences.  BandPage, PledgeMusic and other music-based tech companies are popping up to try and capitalize on this startling revelation.

If done right, Tidal could be the answer.

Monday’s announcement was accompanied by an exclusive Billboard interview with Jay-Z and a 20 minute video which was part live presentation and part sound bite proclamations from a gathering of these superstars back in February.

But here’s the thing, for a company claiming to “take back” the industry and declaring more transparency and data for artists, the rollout provided little of either.

Have they learned nothing from the Spotify catastrophic US rollout back in 2011? Don’t hide your stats, data and payment plans behind closed doors! If you have nothing to hide, put it all on the table.

How is it going to work? Jack White exclaimed in the video, “Now we’re going to see what the artists wanted. People need to go to this site and see ‘Oh the artists run this.’ The artists are in control.” Ok, how many artists are in control?  We’re going to see what how many artists want? 16? There are a few MILLION more on this earth.  Do they not matter?  Show the rest of the artists that you want on your service that you’re for them too.  Not just millionaire artists who have already conquered the world.

Jay Z told Billboard, “We’re super-transparent, and I think that’s part of it.  We want to be transparent, we want to give people their data; they can see it.  If somebody streams your record in Iowa, you see it.  No more shell games.  Just transparency.”

If they want to be so transparent, come out proudly and say “each first tier artist gets 3% of the company.”  Don’t have an anonymous source reveal it to Billboard.  If you want to be so transparent, on launch day proudly exclaim that every artist will be paid the same rate per stream.  Or maybe they won’t be.  Jay Z has already revealed that the “first tier artists” (the select 16) are going to own the highest stake and the 2nd tier artists will own a bit less.  How far down will he go?  Will independent artists get some equity?  Probably not, that seems impossible.  Where is he going to draw the line?

So Spotify gave equity to major labels in order to license their catalog.  Jay Z gave equity to superstar artists in order to obtain exclusives.  And who knows what he offered to the major labels in order to obtain the rights to license their catalogs on Tidal.  Their own catalogs!  Yes, these musicians standing on stage had to go to their labels and ask to get their own music on their new “game changing” service.

If you want to be so transparent, be transparent!

I do like that artists will theoretically be able to see their data.  However, it’s not clear how or when.  That’s a HUGE component that is missing from Spotify, Rdio, Deezer and the bunch.  No major streaming service invites artists into their backend and shows them exactly where every single play occurs.  Pandora’s Amp is the only one that comes close.  YouTube is about to launch similar analytics open to the public.  But no streaming service is currently allowing artists to connect with those fans.  If 100 fans regularly stream my music in Baltimore why can’t I get in touch with them and ask them to help me promote my Baltimore show?  There are 600,000 people who live in Baltimore, how am I even supposed to find these 100 fans when I tour through? S potify, Pandora, Rdio, Shazam? Tidal?  What say you?

Will Tidal solve this? I guess time will tell.

Jay Z did make a great point in his interview with Billboard.  “For someone like me, I can go on tour.  But what about the people working on the record, the content creators and not just the artists?  If they’re not being compensated properly, then I think we’ll lose some writers and producers and people like that who depend on fair trade.”  Yes, producers and songwriters who have traditionally made royalties on sales have seen their incomes dwindle.  Sure, artists have seen their recorded music income diminish as well, but artists can make money on the road, with merch, and sponsorships.  How will Tidal fix this?  He didn’t say.  Just that he wants to fix it.

I want Tidal to succeed.

I like the fact that it is run by musicians.  The problem is, I worry these musicians are too out of touch to understand the demands of the public.  Sure, in an ideal world everyone would pay $20 a month to listen to lossless audio.  But that’s $240 a year.  Even at the peak of the music industry in 1999, music’s BIGGEST fans only spent an average of $64 a year on music.  And lest we forget YouTube is the world’s largest streaming service – and everything is on it (even Taylor Swift) and it’s free!

+Why Other Musicians Shouldn’t Copy Taylor Swift

But, clearly, there is a market (albeit small) for pricey, lossless audio as Neil Young proved with Pono.

But what about everyone under 30 who grew up understanding recorded music to be free?  How is this reeducation going to work?  Bundling together audio, video and exclusives could do the trick.  Columbia University revealed that 55% of 18-29 year olds pirate LESS when offered a free, legal alternative.  And, over 50% of paying Spotify subscribers are under the age of 29.  So there is hope.

I want Tidal to succeed.

But the rollout completely ignored any non-superstar artist.  Is that how this is going to work?  You’re not worthy unless you’re ALREADY a millionaire?  If that’s not the case, then tell us.  Speak to the artists with thousands of fans (not millions).  Speak to the artists making a decent living playing 500 cap rooms around the country, getting hundreds of thousands or (or even a couple million) plays online, but FAR off your radar.  Speak to them.  Why should they join Tidal?

If it truly is #TidalforAll then speak to ALL musicians – not just the superstars.

Seeing that much star power on stage was impressive.  Having all these powerful musicians come together to accomplish anything, let alone a “game-changing” company, is definitely commendable.  But it’s a hard sell to convince average people to pay millionaires more money.

If Tidal doesn’t start the campaign NOW to woo independent artists and music’s biggest fans, Tidal will fail.  Why should the thousands of independent artists (who actually NEED the money) tell their fans to sign up?  Why should fans leave a service they love (Spotify or Deezer) and join Tidal?  What’s the per-stream rate Tidal will pay artists?  What kinds of data will artists see?  Where is the TidalforArtists.com?  Spotify eventually released their SpotifyforArtists.com to attempt to curb all the criticism from the artist community.  LEARN FROM THIS, TIDAL.

If Tidal can offer artists (not just major labels) the highest streaming rate in the industry, provide complete fan analytics, a way for artists to connect with their fans ALONG WITH lossless audio, HD video, exclusive content, lyrics, full album artwork, photos, bio, tour dates (tickets and VIP experiences), merch offerings and crowd-funding campaign links, then I’m on board. But something tells me they’re not thinking like this.  Something tells me they’re only looking at what superstars want and what superstars’ fans want.  Prove me wrong, Tidal.  Please.

+How Apple Can Beat Spotify


Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter and the creator of the music biz advice blog, Ari’s Take. Follow him on Twitter: @aristake

122 Responses

      • Tcooke

        Tidal = NSA = ur an idiot. Bc a customer spends good money, they now have given there personal information to be exploited by artists and quite possibly others. Ok, maybe not all bad. You give to a political group, or you graduate university, they call you on the phone to almost no end for more money. Maybe not unethical but bad taste.

        • Remi Swierczek

          iPod… gone to …Pono
          Sptify…gone to …TIDAL!!!

          Both hopeless and purposeless!
          Music needs to become merchandise or nobody will see any money!

          Simple, almost primitive task!

          • Tcooke

            Remi, is it correct that if the music industry were to undertake your plan, you would benefit greatly from the patents you license Shazaam et al? Because I am unsure about making a mobile app company “cashiers” of the industry. People hardly trust the PROs, much less a candy crush.

  1. Adam

    “They understand fans want exclusive content. And will pay for it. ”

    Really? Do you have any examples of this on a large scale? From what I see what people want is cheap (or free) content. And lots of it.

      • rikki

        that’s all well and good but the RIAA never sued anyone black for downloading or acting like a server (limewire) and stealing music…never

  2. anonymous

    the choice of artists on this panel is telling as they are famous for music as much as their willingness to work within the payola top 40 system, paid for hype, exaggerated sales figures,followers, etc… so how can we trust Tidal to really represent good “music” over money, and new forms of corruption. By ignoring legendary artist’s who bucked the major label corrupt system to represent Tidal , it just appears that they would continue to promote themselves in ways that overshadow the musical pioneers . Drug dealers have been known to do for themselves and screw the community. how is this different?

    • Tidalforall

      Over your head it’s simple get paid for your work you don’t work you don’t get payed saves artist money

    • Kris

      You’re right…you can’t trust them especially knowing that the payola factors are as real as they come and all these artist’s are as pretentious as the next wannabe superstar out there (something that the younger generation has come to realize). I don’t believe Tridal is going to work and is just a glorified version of Spofity probably because Jay z bought it. Until these greedy 16 top artists make room for the rest nothing will change and music will remain free from illegal downloads, file sharing and basic YouTube streams/views.

  3. Yep

    Aspiro is paying us 0.0240 per stream on average right now. Most of the action was in Norway in Q4 2014. It’s a shame we cannot see what’s happening right now with our content.

    Anyhow, 0.0240 is 3 times higher than Spotify. If they can scale this, they have a serious contender.

    • Paul Resnikoff
      Paul Resnikoff

      Well, at price points *starting* at $9.99, and going up to $19.99, the per-stream rates had better be higher than Spotify’s! The question is, can they get enough people to pay in an extremely crowded, extremely payment-averse environment?

      Let’s see the plan. So far, it looks like they are releasing Spotify II with a higher fidelity and a bigger paywall.

      • Yep


        But as long has labels have a good strategy in all steaming services, they win.

        This is all good news. Suddenly Madonna gives a shit about streaming!

        Now that’s news

      • Anonymous

        In order to be a Spotify 2 they would have to have features on par or better than Spotify. Other than the sound quality, I do not see anything Tidal does better than Spotify. They don’t even appear to support local files. What audiophile would be willing to subscribe to a $20 per month music service that can’t be combined with their existing collection? I don’t know of a single one.

  4. FarePlay

    At the very least, we’ve changed the dynamic of ownership from an industry of players from outside the music industry to a new set of players outside the tech industry. One would have to agree that things have deteriorated so badly for most mid-level artists that any attempt at change is a positive.

    Can or will Tidal succeed as both a business and a business that can be far more artist centric? Too early to tell, but while the smoke clears let’s see what transpires before we solely focus on Tidal’s shortcomings. The artists supporting Tidal do have something to lose if Tidal is simply the same artist rip off.

    • Name2

      At the very least, we’ve changed the dynamic of ownership from an industry of players from outside the music industry to a new set of players outside the tech industry.

      Will tech support be replaced with unemployed, surly record store clerks?

      • FarePlay

        i used to work in a record store. Ever worked in retail? When assholes walk in the door there’s not much you can do about it.

        Have a NICE day.

    • GGG

      I think the biggest hurdle is actually convincing people WHY it’s important to pay. That might be easier for streaming rather than buying albums since it’s far less money, but you just know that there will be millions of people saying “Wait, Jay-Z (et al), the guy who raps about being worth hundreds of millions, is giving me a sob story about money!?”

      This is the tricky part about selling this whole thing. You want huge stars because they do have the ability to sway some of the public, but as I said above, people will think it’s silly. And you want indies who actually have a story of not making buckets of money, but a lot of people won’t care. So they have the former, they need to now start on the latter. Get some bigger indies to tell their story; Arcade Fire was there, but they are too big for that purpose. Get Pitchfork to get behind it, get Glassnote behind it, etc.

      • FarePlay

        I don’t think it has anything to do with asking. I think it has to do with availability. Leaving piracy out of the discussion for the time being, because the sales we’re losing because of Spotify et al aren’t pirate related, but cannibalization of former paying customer.

        You don’t put it all up there for people to stream. If they want it, they buy it. That’s how they get it.

        Tidal will hook into sales sites and Apple Music will use iTunes. And Spotify will get the tenth avenue freeze out.

        • GGG

          Eh, I think there’s too many alternatives at this point. Sure, Tidal and Apple can link into stores, but why would that freeze Spotify or Deezer or whoever out? There’s obviously tons of people that don’t care about buying digital files.

          • so

            “Sure, Tidal and Apple can link into stores, but why would that freeze Spotify or Deezer or whoever out? There’s obviously tons of people that don’t care about buying digital files.”


          • Fareplay

            If in fact music has become so ubiquitous that people really don’t care what they listen to as long as they have a distraction playing in the background then you 2 are probably right.

            If people still care, if music still matters at all, then windowing and other measures that limit the streaming availability of music will have an impact. Al so, you do realize that Adele sold over 20 million albums not SO long ago. Why does that matter? Because we only got to a number that huge because people over forty in large numbers bought it.

            So, GGG the whole music buying world isn’t your generation, nor has it ever been. So, what you believe applies to your generation. So in your mind and in your world you are probably right.


          • Anonymous

            Who said anything about a distraction? Just because people stream music doesn’t mean they are passive listeners. And even the ones that are, who cares? If it’s monetized, great! No different from people who keep the radio on at work all day. If you start that argument we could call everyone who doesn’t listen to music on vinyl through $500 headphones a passive listener.

            Also, my generation, and really more so the one under me, are a bit more important in the context of moving forward than the AARP demo. Ever generation is important in it’s own right, but you aren’t going to convince people that have literally known nothing else besides YouTube basically, to start buying individual albums for $10. I’m all for windowing if you want, but there will be a point where it won’t be practical, and there are already times when it isn’t practical. And other times where it certainly makes the most sense. So sure, services should give artists that freedom.

            So, FarePlay the whole music buying world isn’t your generation, nor has it ever been. So, what you believe applies to your generation. So in your mind and in your world you are probably right.


      • so

        The only “why” that is going to stick is the end of rampant piracy. To quote one of these big executives, “free is death”. If that’s the case with Spotify, it’s even more so with the pirate sites. At least Spotify pays something on their free side. Artists have been negotiating with the piracy gun at their heads for 15 years now. Until that is sharply curtailed, no artist stands a chance at a true market price, and the “why” is never going to sink in with customers.

      • Versus

        Now we have to convince people to obey the law?
        Let’s just start with this:

        Enforce the existing intellectual property laws.

        • GGG

          “Now?” We’ve been telling people to obey the law for 15 years and it’s done nothing.

          • Anonymous

            Telling people to obey it isn’t enforcing it. The SOPA scam demonstrated that Silicon Valley now owns Washington DC. They’re the ones getting rich off of other people’s content and they’ve dictated that copyright law is not to be enforced.

          • GGG

            Well, sure. When they start enforcing it I’ll back it 100%.

          • rikki

            when i see black people being sued then we are on the right path…..i wonder what they would do if sued for racial discrimination.

  5. Musicservices4less


    “Drug dealers have been known to do for themselves and screw the community. how is this different?”

    That is a very cheap shot. Quite frankly, it shows you know nothing about artists and you know nothing about people in general. You’re either very young, very stupid, very naive, or a troll.

    Everyone starts somewhere!

    I don’t know which one you are, but if you are not going to give a name to yourself but comment as anonymous, I think you’re the latter.

  6. Steve Neels

    I don’t get it.

    What can’t you see?

    This has NOTHING to do with music for all at higher quality and data for musicians and a better experience for fans.

    This is SOLELY about Jay-Z primarily making a massive score like his pal Dre. Musicians of his status look at the tech world and realise they traded personal freedom for massive success and a total lack of privacy whilst tech titans make tens and hundreds of times what a musician (even of Jay-Z’s stature) makes and they do it in a few years.

    And they get to walk to their corner store without a bodyguard or being accosted for selfies! (Well some do)

    Musicians are pissed that they aren’t Elon Musk, Peter Thiel and Daniel Ek.

    They feel that they deserve that incredi-wealth just because they are famous – and, let’s face it, these aren’t really ‘musicians’ we’re talking about here – these are ‘pop stars’.

    So, if they wanted to be really transparent they should admit all the things that this article desires but more so they should admit that this is a tech play for a pay day.

    That Jay-Z has roped in 15 ‘stars’ as leverage is amusing. I would be stunned if those conversations skirted around the value of the equity he’s handed out. These people know the value of equity and they are all looking to the final prize.

    I think it will fail when Apple, Spotify and Goofle squeeze the artists and the business. They all need Google (YouTube and Play) and Spotify (to a lesser extent) and they don NOT have $500Bn to play with like Apple does.

    But, even in that failure, there is a price (way above the $56M Jay-Z paid) at which the major labels or one of those competitor streaming services will just buy them out to level the playing field. Probably not as high a price as these ‘1st tier’ artists have already been dreaming of.

    Jay-Z and his share will doubtless get a huge lump of cash and each of the others will get the equivalent of a good year or two’s touring if it’s sold for $200M plus.

    Make no mistake – that’s what this is about and that’s what they should be transparent about.

    • Steve Neels

      I forgot to add that when Apple decides to join this party it does so with Iovine who has every name on his rolodex and pulled this trick off already.

      BUT, crucially Apple will roll iTunes Streaming (or whatever they call it) out as an integral part of Mac OS and iOS – like they have done with the Apple Watch App.

      It’ll be on your phone whether you like it or not and it’ll be already connected to your credit account that is connected to your Apple iD.

      They won’t need to go looking for customers as they already have them and their cards!

      Tidal will struggle to survive on the scraps.

      • superduper

        Apple will NOT roll out Beats like that. There’s no way that would happen or else there would be a lawsuit coming their way. If they charged those payments to the Apple ID credit cards without authorization there would be serious legal ramifications. I mean, hey! I don’t want it! I don’t support streaming and I do not want to pay for a subscription.

        • Steve Neels

          I’m not saying that they will automatically enroll you and charge you a subscription but I’ll eat my hat if they don’t force the app on to your iPhone – making an average user WAY more likely to think about giving it a whirl.

    • Sarah

      And it doesn’t seem to have gone over well with the public, from what I’ve seen. Jay Z has done some smart things as a businessman, I’m surprised at his execution of this launch.

      • esol esek

        Not me. He’s an overrated elitist. You want to play Mr Benevolent, it takes extra work.

  7. Musicservices4less

    How’s this for an idea. Since Jay-Z and all the rest of the tier 1 artists have already “made it” financially, instead of paying some huge salaries to run a streaming type business why not have these tier 1 people run the business. And maybe they can even donate the money for its’ start up so that it does not have to be paid back. Let the business be run by employees (can you say ESOP?). Put a cap on the highest paid salary, etc.

    All net revenues gets split 1/4 publishers, 1/4 writers, 1/4 sound recording copyright owners, 1/4 artists. On the publishing side the split is easily accomplished. On the sound recording side, do it with SoundExchange or the same concept of direct payment to writers and artists so the recoupment and low royalty issue is gone.

    By the way, this idea is copyrighted by me. Oh wait, you can’t copyright ideas. . .f**k!

  8. Name2

    Jack White: People need to go to this site and see ‘Oh the artists run this.’ The artists are in control.

    As a current subscriber, my number 1 question: “Do we get the whining for free?”

  9. Musicservices4less

    I Have The Ultimate Answer err, maybe.

    A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was one of a group of people who defeated the high priced music retailers in a relatively large geographic foot print. Our music store grew out of the then new and ongoing social phenomena know as “hippydom” or just “hippies.” Everything was communal then and in terms of commodities “non-profit.” It worked so good that the forces of evil had to actually by the use of blackmail, shut it down. But that is another story.

    The point is to take out the profit for the few and let it ALL go to the many. OK, so its not capitalism. But surprisingly enough, the U.S. of A. laws not only recognize this form of business but one may conclude that the laws encourage it.

    As it applies to the music business, here it is some what operating and surprise, everyone already knows about it:

    SoundExchange exists to administer statutory licenses for sound recording copyrights, primarily through the collection and distribution of royalties for sound recording performances occurring under the jurisdiction of U.S. law. SoundExchange handles the following duties with respect to statutory licenses:
    • Collects performance royalties from the statutory licensees;
    • Collects and processes all data associated with the performance of the sound recordings;
    • Allocates royalties for the performance of the sound recording based on all of the data collected and processed;
    • Distributes the featured artist’s share directly to the artist;
    • Distributes the Sound Recording Copyright Owners’ share directly to the copyright owner;
    • Distributes the non-featured artist’s share to SAG-AFTRA and AFM’s Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund; and
    • Provides detailed reports summarizing the titles, featured artists and royalty amounts for each of the sound recordings performed by the statutory licensees.
    An administrative fee is deducted from royalties before they are distributed, with remainder being divided between the performing artists on a given recording, and the copyright owner of that recording.[15]
    SoundExchange is also a membership organization, representing over 31,000 featured artists and 3,500 record labels, as of October 2008. Members are able to be awarded royalties from other countries that have reciprocal agreements with SoundExchange for eligible international performances. SoundExchange membership offers other benefits, as well.
    SoundExchange collects and distributes royalties for all artists and copyright owners covered under the statutory licenses; these parties do not need to be members of SoundExchange for royalties to be collected on their behalf and distributed to them.[16]

    Business structure and oversight[edit]
    SoundExchange was initially created in 2000 as a division of the RIAA. In September 2003, SoundExchange became an independent non-profit organization to represent the interests of both recording artists and record labels,[21] incorporated in the State of Delaware. SoundExchange is exempt from taxation under Section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code.[20]
    SoundExchange claims to operate, in part, pursuant to Copyright Office regulations set forth in 37 C.F.R. Parts 260, 261, 262, 263 and 270.[20]
    SoundExchange is controlled by a Board of Directors comprising equal numbers of representatives of recording artists and sound recording copyright owners.[20] This Board oversees all operations of SoundExchange, and approves such things as the distribution methodology and administrative expenses. The board is composed of 18 members.[20][22][23][24]

    Two things: Everybody note this is my idea and I floated it publicly for anyone to use. All I want is the credit and any money I can get. I need it to pay my bills. Not really but I can ask can’t I?

    Secondly, I hope Wikepedia won’t sue me for copyright infringement because I lifted this right out of their site.

    Comments, suggestions please.

    PS Everyone should explore the entity known as a “trust”. That is what SoundExchange actually is and you need to ask yourself why and what does it mean for an operating entity. Also for another discussion.

  10. Me2

    “Do we get the whining for free?” 🙂

    Though it may prove to be a blip, I think there is an instructive convergence going on here.

    There is the “artist run” narrative, an idea embraced by some.
    The backlash from the public is also telling and worthy of analysis.

    • Musicservices4less

      Just another fact to digest about SE:

      Soundexchange Inc
      In Care of Name ANJULA SINGH
      Address 733 10TH ST NW FL 10
      WASHINGTON, DC 20001-4888
      MapG MapV
      IRS Subsection 501(c)(6) – Business leagues, chambers of commerce, real estate boards, etc. formed to improve conditions.
      Type of Organization Trust
      Deductibility Contributions are NOT deductible
      Tax I.D. Number 760742496
      Exempt Since 12-2004
      Form 990 Requirement Required to file 990PF
      Last 990 Form Filed 12-2013
      Form 990 Amount $34,799,129
      Classification Business and Industry
      Share with others information about this Nonprofit – like the web site, e-mail address, how to donate or any corrections to the data shown.

  11. Musicservices4less

    All right for all those not seeing some of the salient points above, one of them is that SoundExchange DOES NOT PAY TAXES!

    Take that, Venture Capitalists!

  12. Name2


    Does somebody have a version that isn’t so desperate to sound insidery, with things like references to alleged “Billboard leaks”, etc.?

    The digital music story of the year, and DMN produces this; and a transcript of the publicity stunt. At least the transcript is complete, which carries some value.

  13. Jason Paul

    Rdio actually does let you see every single person who listened to an album. It’s public though. No way for an artist to leverage it. I believe Rdio’s API is available to developers to produce auxilary products leveraging their data. So theoretically a developer could make an app to address your main concerns about being able to targeting fans by location. Good idea! I’m actually surprised they or someone else hasn’t just bought Rdio. This is where the audiophiles are. Great design, community and all that.

    I think you’re asking too much out of Tidal as relates to small artists. CD Baby already has my music on Tidal actually. I was never asked etc (but I don’t care, I want to see that streaming payout rate too!) http://listen.tidalhifi.com/artist/5490736

    I like your thinking about letting us connect with fans and offer exclusives, maybe even sell physical products in a meaningful integrated way. I’m not at the level to have that mean anything yet. But finding those blessed souls who have listened to a lovingly crafted obscure pop record would be nice for a lot of us.

  14. scorn100

    A little basic math:

    $0.0240/stream for the master (using this figure for now) and the master owner pays the artist
    $0.0024/stream for the publisher (10% of the master- which is way too low, i admit, but subscribes to industry standards)

    Let’s assume that Tidal will keep 30% for overhead and profit (no reason for them not to make some money from this). That leaves $14 per subscriber per month going to the rights holder which at the above rate equals:

    530 streams/month per subscriber
    4 minutes per stream (avg song length and it’s probably longer)
    that equals 35.35 hours of streaming per month or 1.18 hours per day.

    So if a subscriber listens to more than 1.18 hours per day, which is very plausible, Tidal is in the red due to the above rights holder payments.

    Tidal has every right to succeed. It would be a blessing if it does. In order to succeed, it has to be profitable and not rely on consistent investments as Spotify does.

    The only conclusion that I have is that the payouts can’t be as high as I have assumed. If not, then what makes Tidal so great? Exclusive content? higher quality audio? Will this be enough to justify $20/month? I don’t think so.

    If anyone has differing math, please post and correct me. I’d be very interested.

    That means every subscriber generates $14 in revenue to be split up.

    • Sarah

      They offer both a $19.99 high quality tier and a $9.99 std quality tier, as well as high-def video apparently.

      These factors make the math worse for Tidal:

      – the $9.99 is the same as spotify’s paid, so should generate roughly the same results – but means the average subscriber revenue available for payments to artists is actually lower than $14 (which is based only off $19.99 plan)

      – they aren’t getting any extra money for that high-def video, which is much more expensive to deliver to a user than audio is. On a per-unit basis, the cost difference is insignificant but it will add up very quickly if the videos get high traffic.

      From Rolling Stone “Music Megastars Team Up to Launch Streaming Service Tidal”:

      “Tidal offers CD-quality music streaming of more than 25 million songs and high-def video streaming of 75,000 videos at somewhat [high??] monthly rates ($9.99/month for standard sound quality, $19.99 for top-shelf audio).”

      • Name2

        Does Rolling Stone have that right? Jay-Z was asked by Billboard about the price and he made vague reference to perhaps a $9.99 tier in the future, but is it actually on offer today? (Gosh, I wish there was a reliable website to go to for Digital Music News).

        • Sarah

          🙂 I’ve seen it in a few reasonably decent places so I think it’s correct but I’m not certain.

      • Anonymous

        What you people need to understand is the Majors essentially own the marketplace, they even distriubte the top Indies, and to their customers, who make up the extent of the paying customer, these artists are like deity gods, therefore when they go looking for a place to stream music, this will be a very large selling point, and i assure you, to the non creative plain listening consumer, Daniel eks face won’t quite bring in the herds of consumers like all these artists will…

        it has a very good chance to success based on that alone…

        none of this is for the indy arteest, just be thankful you might have access to it and enjoy the few crumbs you get…

    • JTVDigital

      Seems correct.
      Spotify users average 110 minutes of listening time per day, meaning 1.83 hours.
      Let’s assume Tidal becomes as successful as Spotify, they’ll be in the red.
      If they are more successful thanks to the hype brought by all these superstars, they’ll be even more in the red.
      So they’ll have to (drastically) decrease the per stream payout and/or inject more fresh money in the company (or raise the monthly subscription pricing).
      On top of that, note that the profit is not 30%. The 30% mainly consist in taxes, bank transaction costs, collecting societies payments…Etc. Net profit for the platform is somewhere between 0 and 10% per unit.
      Meaning they’re probably already in the red, just like any other music retailer / streaming platform.

      • John Smith

        Just like Spotify, they won’t pay a fixed per-stream rate. So they won’t be in the red just beacuse their users are streaming more songs. The systematic of streaming service payouts is quite good explained on “Spotify Explained: How we pay royalties”. This basically applies to all other streaming platforms as well. Royalty fee calculation base for subscription services always is the income from monthly subscription fees – not the number of actual streams.

        • JTVDigital

          Yes indeed, that’s how it works with current streaming services. But I was under the impression they communicated on a fix / higher per stream pay-out as part of their pitch, but maybe not.

  15. Name2

    Some time ago, Tidal pulled the Mac and Windows desktop apps from their download website. And the existing Windows desktop simply stopped working. Is this how they intend to save money? March in and fire desktop developers? Awesome.

    • Antinet

      Really? That’s not a good sign. I’d trust this more if it were being launched by someone with some tech industry background who cared about music.

      Fact is, someone who opened their doors to the next generation of musicians, and took a fair and small piece and defended them, would probably end up a megabillionaire down the road. The artists at the forefront of Tidal are already established, and will mostly decline from their current peaks.

  16. Anonymous

    No major streaming service invites artists into their backend and shows them exactly where every single play occurs.

    Not entirely true… Depending on who you distribute with, some provide detailed spreadsheets that tell you at least the territory, but you are right that down to the city and zip code it’s not passed on…

    But no streaming service is currently allowing artists to connect with those fans. If 100 fans regularly stream my music in Baltimore why can’t I get in touch with them and ask them to help me promote my Baltimore show?

    I appreciate your guys approach to things, it’s obviously working for you, but this kind of thing is killing me…

    My love for music and admiration for artists plummeted when this whole open your life up to everyone and be their friend thing started happening as well this detailed analytic’s that give every label and artist full details into who listens and from where… I much preferred when i’d just get the album and the songs and the video, and know absolutely nothing about them, with distance and mystery… I don’t need to see anyone in the paper, i dont need to be bothered with tweets or anything, i do like seeing pictures of women/girls, but that is about it, it all leads to little positive benefit and a whole lot of chances to f it all up… I guess it works, it’s still touted as the way to be, but i can’t stand it, it ruins it for me, and quite frankly i see everyone struggling with it, even for those who it works for, it does equally or more damage from what i can tell, it’s actually ultimately embarrassing…

    I want my artists to be on a pedestal, not like im checking the bottom of my shoe to see if i stepped in anything…

    If i stream your song on Spotify, i certainly do not want you to contact me to help you i want that to be the absolute end of the transaction whether artist or label or advertising, i want to be contacted when someone has something to give me or do for me, unless i’m specifically soliciting for something, otherwise it would be a real quick way to lose a fan… You might gain an acquaintance and possibly a friend over time, but certainly you would immediately lose a fan fan, but then again, i guess i’m not the normal person…

    I find this whole new open the life up only ever gives everyone im a fan of repeated chances to lose me as a fan, and since its all just sell sell sell to me, they arent doing much anymore to solidify me as a fan, theres so little upside for me…

    I don’t want to promote someones show, unless it’s my own show or i am part of it or of course im being paid to, i dont want to be some infantry soldier marching to put posters up on my dime for an artist, i want the bloody red carpet rolled out and to be treated like a king, when i attend a show, as that would be a highlight of entertainment in my life outside of the normal doldrums of daily living, i used to go to shows to have fun, to party out, to get away from it all, not be enlisted to help for free or to be treated like some data mine that an artist is trying to grease stuff out of me by appearing to be my friend because apparently thats what i want, especially when i’m not even a part of something…

    Then again it all sort of confuses me these days, so who knows, but i do appreciate your resolve to push for as much stats and data as possible, and ultimately, this is where these companies should be charging money and not with large up front album fees to distribute, a small percentage with free distribution along with value added tiers for accounting and stats and data, those sorts of things…

  17. Sarah

    But no streaming service is currently allowing artists to connect with those fans.

    “Who owns the service” is the wrong thing to focus on, in my opinion. Unless you own it, it really doesn’t matter.

    Much more important questions are:

    “who owns your fans?”

    “can your fans easily build a connection with you, interact, and buy stuff while they stream your music?”

    “do you control your work, and the terms on which it is offered – including price?”

    “when a fan comes to your page, do you get the full benefit of his attention, or does the service promote other artists and content?”

    Ownership of the service is kind of irrelevant if it actually works for you the way that you want it to.

    p.s. RepX’s answers to these questions are: you do; they can do everything you want to offer – including crowdfunding your next project or subscribing to you; yes; absolutely yes.

    We’re currently inviting professional artists and indie labels on to the platform for our launch, and if you’re interested in a platform that gives you these things we’d love to hear from you.

    • Anonymous

      Much more important questions are:

      “who owns your fans?”

      The fan owns the fan, they better own themselves… You people talking about owning fans, unbelievable… I dont own my fans, any part of them, i just want to be a part of their lives somehow, preferably by helping them through music or words or actions, i just want to get in their brains and help weed out bad thoughts and negativity and depression and suicide and those things, i just want them to feel good about themselves, to feel sexy about themselves, i certainly do not want to own them, they aren’t chattel property, they are flesh people with a conscious and a soul, they need to be free to enjoy me however they want…

      “can your fans easily build a connection with you, interact, and buy stuff while they stream your music?”

      No matter what the platform is, If they want to they can, otherwise its sort of pseudo fanning, and if they are so lazy that you have to build in all this convenience stuff to provide analytical data that makes someone appear to have more engaged fans then they do, then they aren’t really engaged excited fans then anyways and the stats are then moot…

      “do you control your work, and the terms on which it is offered – including price?”

      You always control your work until you no longer control your work, none of these distributors take any rights they dont need, and while some have terms, thats the way it has to be, if you sign with a label and/or publisher, then you no longer control your work, and thats the trade off for getting up front money to live and survive and keep going….

      Controlling price is a pipe dream, if you are using these platforms to distribute your music, you really shouldn’t be undercutting them everywhere and im not sure its smart to allow amazon to undercut apple and so on and so forth, so while sometimes ill sell stuff on my own site where no one has a cut, ill still price it the same as the biggest competing stores…

      “when a fan comes to your page, do you get the full benefit of his attention, or does the service promote other artists and content?”

      The fan gives you the attention they want to give you, on many of these services you end up getting a lot of peripheral streams from people just browsing around, if a fan wants to give you their time, they look around, go to websites, check out social media, whatever you allow them to… Im not so sure people are glued to these services, they hit play and then put it in their pocket or start surfing other sites, its background for the most part, and maybe the experience could be better, ultimately i dont stream to get into artists, i stream to hear some music… I tend to see this whole new age social media engagement open your life up to everyone lets be friends things as doing the opposite of what it purports, but thats just me…

    • Anonymous

      ““Who owns the service” is the wrong thing to focus on, in my opinion”

      Because you’re the owner of streaming service RepX…

      “Unless you own it, it really doesn’t matter”

      Ah, then we agree… 🙂

  18. Anonymous

    But the rollout completely ignored any non-superstar artist. Is that how this is going to work? You’re not worthy unless you’re ALREADY a millionaire?

    That’s how it always works Ari!

    The peasantry has it better then ever, the Governments are looking out and supporting the peasantry low classes better then ever, even though the King doesn’t toss out free bread and rice anymore, they do have many things in place to help the poor lower class rag picking peasant serfs, and music is no different/// Music is it’s own country with its own class structures, and while its better then ever for the bottom rung low level peasants, it still is and as long as capitalism is the main thing, always will be, all for the rich and the top class top rung royalty super stars, even when they sell it off as being about the low class peasant, just the way it is…

    Capitalism loves its rag to riches stories, but it just cant have anything to do with low class poor peasants unless its making money from them or helping them in a way that gives them a write off or makes them look good, luckily we live in a time of more humanitarianism and equality then ever, where while still treated as rag picking peasants, at least we have access to many things and are given some opportunities our ancestors never could have gotten, so that’s good, because otherwise they may already have tossed us in a pit or a gas chamber…


  19. Joanna

    True, and allow me to add: what about those artists who are new but really good, and don’t have more than a few followers yet? Is there a place for them (ah-hem…us…) too?

  20. Anonymous

    Seeing that much star power on stage was impressive.

    It’s always interesting to see how other people think…

    To me when i look at that, to parlay it in other terms, this is how i see it… Say you have a plumbing company, the biggest in town, they have their team uniforms and their team trucks, they are a large known corporate brand providing service to the citizens, and then you have the independent contractor, running his own ship flying his own flag, with his own truck and his own uniform, running his own little business servicing the same citizens but just not on as large or prolific or as public a stage…

    To me all i see is roto reuters plumbers employed by a corporate conglomerate, as opposed to independent contractors running their own ship, thats what i see on stage…

    Once you hit a certain age you start to realize, that these are just employees working a job and making it seem like they have all this going on, that there is some secret society thing happening, but yet, 30 years later, they are still doing the tours saying the same old thing never ever ever ever actually living their image or facade, and that therefore means they are just ringling brothers trapeze artists as opposed to these iconic Jesus like figures….

    But then again, what do i know?? The only thing that i know is that i know nothing at all…

  21. Steve Sinclair

    Any “for profit” enterprise that doesn’t cut the labels out of the equation is destined to be Spotify part two. Don’t believe the hype, these characters got to where they are because they look after themselves.

  22. steveh

    Well I’m a total Spotify sceptic, would love to see it crash and burn – but to be totally honest I can’t see this Tidal thing working at all.

    Streaming is still being sold as a revenue generating way to beat free – but here you have a cabal of mega-rich artists effectively saying “pay twice as much as Spotify for our service – and make us even richer”.

    I mean:- if that’s the subtext that is coming over it can’t work, can it?

    • Anonymous

      “pay twice as much as Spotify for our service – and make us even richer”

      That is the exact reaction I have seen so far. Their celebration yesterday made everyone look bad.

  23. Edward Jennings

    I want TIDAL to succeed.

    Hmmm Rome was not built in a day. Nor was Spotify or TIDAL.

    Patience is the key to satisfaction and success.

  24. Mike Tierce

    Guys we have already started production on a service that is the exact opposite it seems of Tidal! We are building a unique streaming service that only features unsigned independent artists who keep full ownership of their music. Users can stream and skip as long as they want, favorite tracks to hear again and again. Even earn rewards every time they vote or promote a track! We want to give the music industry back to the people! Join the nearly 1000 listeners and bands already supporting us at more news to come soon!

    • R Fil

      He needs them and everyone else to get the message out. This isn’t about changing the music industry. This is about whipping up as much hype as needed to get acquired for a bundle ala Beats. That’s all this is.

      Also, the idea of exclusives is intriguing but means nothing unless they exclude YouTube as well, which they ost certainly won’t.

  25. Anonymous

    “And lest we forget YouTube is the world’s largest streaming service – and everything is on it (even Taylor Swift) and it’s free!”


    That’s why we need a free, ad-financed, artist-friendly, better-paying YouTube alternative — owned and operated by the industry (not just by 16 artists) — and we need to use that service exclusively. All revenues straight back to the artists.

    Think non-profit organization, worker cooperative, crowd-funding.

    You have a gold mine in your backyard. What are you going to do about it? Give it away?

    • Anonymous

      You have a gold mine in your backyard. What are you going to do about it? Give it away?

      Less ambiguous vaguery and more swot analysis syllabus please…

      Whats the gold mine and how to you plan to profit from the gold mine?? Details, breakdowns, analysis please…

      • Anonymous

        Like I said in the other thread, there’s nothing vague about non-profit organizations and worker cooperatives.

        On the contrary, it’s the stuff revolutions are made of…

        • Sarah

          You’re right, there’s nothing vague about worker cooperatives or non-profit organizations. It’s just that you’re stating a high-level goal, not any method of actually getting there. This is the equivalent of proposing world peace or an end to hunger – sure, it’s a good goal and we all get the concept, but how do you achieve it?

          How will you form those worker cooperatives and non-profit organizations? Who is going to lead the charge? Who is going to fund the building of the platform, or operating costs? Who will lead and fund the formation of the cooperatives? Will they have control and ownership as a result of their investment, or will they effectively be donating their money to the cause? How will they be structured, and what interactions and dependencies, if any, will they have with existing major industry players (labels, publishers, PROs, etc)?

          What systemic protections will you put in place to prevent any dominant players who (will inevitably) emerge under your new framework from manipulating the system to the detriment of individual artists (such as by setting up different rules or processes that disadvantage the independents)? Have you crunched the numbers on advertising to confirm that you can actually get higher payments?

          Saying “we want X” is the easy part, unfortunately.

          • Anonymous

            “Saying “we want X” is the easy part”

            No — it’s the only part that matters today.

            If the artists say: “We want Spotify to die tomorrow”, then it will die tomorrow.

            But first we have to know what we want. We’re almost there, but not quite. Which means we have to learn how the industry really works today. Most importantly, we have to understand that Spotify, iTunes and YouTube are worthless without artists.

            Then we have to make a choice: “OK, so there’s this gold mine in my backyard — do I want to keep it or should I give it away?”

            Finally, depending on the answer, it’s time to consider your questions and design the best model.

            And that’s the easy part.

          • Musicservices4less

            Hey Sarah, didn’t you read my posts above? I just gave you/everyone the beginning of the road map and basically how it works. In fact. We all need to wake up and know that SoundExchange is already doing it except on behalf of the major music powers as opposed to the artists and content creators themselves. One other reason SoundExchange is in the form of a trust is so the real powers that are behind it do not have to be revealed. I’m guessing its the majors and their bosses.

            Why would the major record labels want to influence/control SoundExchange? Because they set the rates that every music tech distributor has to pay. The majors and their bosses want control just as much as money. And this concept of the importance of control is what copyright is all about. Right? So who owns most of the musical composition/sound recording copyrights?

            Think people, think. Start looking at the bigger picture here. There will never be a “fair” rate/compensation for all involved in the business until everyone has equal control. This is one of the concepts that Irving Azoff is trying to implement. And if you don’t know who he is or don’t think he is brillant in the music business, look him up.

            One of the other major components of the” way there”, Sarah, that is just starting to level out the problems of the music digital distribution end of the music business, is the pressure building to do more about major tech’s involvement in making the availability of pirated music so easy to obtain. Notice the announcements coming for high level executives. That in PR language is called a public statement. Secondly, action is starting regarding the free tiers being offered or proposed to be offered by various music digital distributors. And for those of you that think that what Chairman Wheeler has done in regards to Net Neutrality is ground breaking, well, you have no idea what it will eventually do regarding the availability of pirated music on the internet. And start reading the Copyright Office’s statements and papers on pirated music.

            And there will be no individual lawsuits brought against consumers because finally the music powers have realized it is “not their fault.” Everybody loves free. Except when you can’t easily get it, then you have to make choices where you want to spend your money.

  26. Cristina

    Before you judge, try the 30 day free trial. I am. I also have Spotify! and really love it. Hey, if we don’t like Tidal we can always go back to piracy and no one will get a dime. What I don’t like is some of the artists will be pulling their music from Spotify.

    • Anonymous

      “if we don’t like Tidal we can always go back to piracy

      OR you could just f*** off already.

      • Anonymous

        You’re right, piracy is a little radical. I’d rather we just lobby for new copyright laws. I think a 20 year limit on copyright would be an excellent start, don’t you agree?

        • Anonymous

          “I think a 20 year limit on copyright would be an excellent start”

          Instead of life + 70? 🙂

          Not saying it’s crazy, just not realistic. Try life +20.

          I wouldn’t be against 20-50 combined with actual enforcement, though.

          • FarePlay

            I’m actually not sure how I feel about the length of copyright, until this whole pre 1972 loophole was exploited by Pandora. In the process I found out that pre1972 music represented 15% of their streams. Then my question became, why should Pandora get a free ride?

            Why would you rather see a wealthy, stock supported corporation make money at the expense of the individual? Why is it ok for Pandora to get a free ride and not the guy who made the music? Can you answer that?

            Which brings me to entitlement, because there’s an undercurrent of entitlement here, which challenges milennials. Piracy is about entitlement.

          • Anonymous

            Same reason generic drug producers get a free ride.

          • Anonymous

            “why should Pandora get a free ride?”

            Good point. I really, really don’t think Pandora should get any free ride for any reason! 🙂

            However, at some point it has to stop (for everybody else than Pandora, haha).

            And I do have a hard time defending the fact that every cent Beach Boys’ Surfin’ USA makes will go to Chuck Berry’s great-great-great-grandchildren until (at least) 2085.

          • Anonymous

            The length of Copyright should be up to or heavily weighted upon those that actually own copyrights, I assure thou, as an owner of many copyrights, the longer the better…

        • David

          Copyright applies to books, films, and other areas as well as recorded music and musical compositions. An author may spend 10 years writing a book, which may then ‘slumber’ for years before becoming well-known (if the author is lucky!), so a general limit of 20 years from publication would be onerous on authors. (For example, Tolkien published The Hobbit in the 1930s, but it didn’t become famous until the 60s.) There might of course be different limits for different art forms, and the regime is already different for films and sound recordings as compared with compositions (generally 70 years from the composer’s death). The term of copyright is also much longer than for the term for patents (generally 20 years from registration of the patent claim). There are often many people in a race to solve the same technical problem, and patents give protection to the first inventor who files a claim. Patents therefore protect the inventor against independent discovery as well as copying, unlike copyright. A longer patent term would arguably be too generous to the first claimant. Patents and copyright really don’t have much in common, and it is unfortunate that the US Constitution bundles them into the same clause, maybe just to save a few words. There is no strong reason for giving them the same duration.

          It is puzzling that some people seem (or claim) to be so concerned about the term of copyright. It is really only a major issue in special circumstances, like the early poems of T S Eliot, which are (I think) still in copyright after about 100 years! In the field of music, I’m sure that most artists and songwriters would be willing to trade a shorter term of copyright for more effective enforcement during its term. The main problem with copyright duration at present is not that de jure it lasts for many years, but that de facto it doesn’t last for many minutes.

          • Anonymous

            It is puzzling that some people seem (or claim) to be so concerned about the term of copyright.

            David, you do realize those that claim to be concerned are people that dont have copyrights to protect, they are the people who are unable to create something and need to jack someone elses property in order to do so, thus no copyright or shortening it would allow them better chance to succeed and profit, legally, there is no other reason why…

            The only people who want to abolish Copyright are those people who dont have any and those people who rely on using other peoples work to make their own…

            Tell all these supposed freedon fighters and free people to get working on things like rent and food and etc. etc. and fuck off out these kinds of games… Go prove to me they are all about freedom and free by attacking things they have nothing to gain from, or else shut up and fuck off…

  27. Anonymous

    The point is, this is the music the world listens to. Not obscure indie crap. If you are a musician and weren’t on that stage, you are ultimately irrelevant.

    • Esol Esek

      Great music is never irrelevant. Today’s second tier stars include those that were very obscure in the past. Noone except aging tramps will want to listen to most of Tidal stage’s music 20 years from now, and people will be looking for what was done under the radar. In some ways, that’s a rationale for making a certain amount of physical product.

  28. superduper

    Can we all just agree that the payout system of streaming services IN GENERAL is absolutely horrible? The math makes no sense EVEN IF there are more paying subscribers? One of the most fundamentally flawed things about streaming is that it is nearly impossible to monetize a song PLAY; not a song in general, but an individual song play. It also seems hard to scale, as when more artists are added to the roster and more songs are added to the system it becomes a downwards scale of diminishing returns. And the only way for the artists to make money is to distribute them evenly because there is no solid way of monetizing a song play.
    This is NOT a way to run a business, in my opinion. In fact, it almost seems closer to a pyramid scheme than anything. Am I missing something here? Why do people think that streaming is such a goldmine for profit when it is really not?
    In my opinion streaming is best for temporary listening and for determining what you like. It’s a great tool for user discovery but I can’t see any way to actually monetize it properly.

    • John Smith

      I think also on DMN someone made the suggestion that each subscriber’s fees should only be allocated to those tracks this particular subscriber has listened to within a month. Although such systematic would surely be a bit tricky to implement, it would probably dramatically improve the streaming payouts for mid/low-tier artists that have a strong fanbase – even at the miniscule payout rates that are common at the moment due to the still relatively small number of paying subscribers.

      • Sarah

        From a tech standpoint, this is NOT tricky at all to implement – and I agree, it’s an important step towards making the unlimited subscription streaming model more fair.

        • superduper

          But why stream? Why not download legally? In my view downloading is actually a lot better than streaming in a lot of ways, and in fact I think downloading makes streaming obsolete, not the other way around. In other words streaming is redundant because of paid downloading imo.

          • Sarah

            Exactly – “in your view.” It’s just a matter of consumer preference. 🙂

            The big problem with the streaming vs. downloading vs. physical media argument is that the difference is artificial, from the consumer’s point of view – so it should be up to them. The legitimate argument, the persuasive argument, is “either way, pay for it because it’s someone else’s property and you’re choosing to consume it.” That’s got substance to it that most people can (and do) understand and respect.

            But try to tell them “no, you have to store the file locally” or “you should always stream it” – those are issues of preference and convenience, not issues of right or wrong, so by focusing on that you make it really, really easy for the consumer to come back with “screw you, who are you to tell me what my preference is, I want to [stream/download/own vinyl] and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”

            There’s a super duper important issue here: the fact that artists are investing resources into creating products, and they have a right to expect payment on terms they agree to if and when other people choose to consume those products – just like bakers, butchers, lawyers, and tech guys do with their work.

            Streaming vs. downloading is a distraction from that, and it’s an argument that’s virtually impossible to win because there isn’t a “factually right” or “fair” or “moral” answer.

          • superduper

            No, the consumer should NOT always get their way. Don’t you get that Sarah? You say it should be up to them, but if it were to be up to them all the time everything would be free.
            And yes, there is a crucial difference between streaming and downloading that is rarely discussed and that is ownership and control. If you download something you own it and are in full control it. If you stream, you merely “rent” a song and are not in full control if it.
            And yes that does connect to the main issue, which is, very simply, monetizing music so that the music industry can thrive and that all artists (both rich poor and in between) can make money off of it. So forget about giving people “what they want”, you tell me, how in the world can you monetize recorded music with streaming?
            And actually here is the biggest thing of all, and that is:
            Why should it matter how many times a song is played and why should that be the main metric?

          • Sarah

            And yes, there is a crucial difference between streaming and downloading that is rarely discussed and that is ownership and control. If you download something you own it and are in full control it. If you stream, you merely “rent” a song and are not in full control if it.

            You are making a critical assumption: that other people want to own instead of rent. That people care about “ownership and control.” You might, and many people do – but the evidence suggest that many other people don’t. And there is NOT a right answer to this one.

            No, the consumer should NOT always get their way…. You say it should be up to them, but if it were to be up to them all the time everything would be free.

            I never, ever said that consumers should always get their way – of course that’s not the case. This is about picking your battles; I’m not arguing with your end goal – we agree on that. I’m arguing with your proposed methods for reaching it. Do you care more about whether your song is downloaded vs. streamed – or whether you get paid acceptably for it? 🙂

            Imagine a system where you don’t know whether a consumer streams or downloads, you just get paid an amount of money that you agree, as the owner/seller, is acceptable to you.

            If you were getting paid on terms you accepted regardless of the consumer’s choice of how the music is delivered and stored, would you be so passionately fighting for downloading over streaming?

          • superduper

            First off, what is to say I’m wrong about ownership? What is the reason why ownership is not better than renting? And why do you even think there’s no right or wrong answer? And isn’t it simple enough that ownership is more lucrative than renting individual pieces? What part of this do you not understand?

            And secondly with regards to payment:

            But where does the money come from? How is that determined? How do make sure that it is payed correctly? Does it come out of thin air? Or does it actually come from a source?

          • Sarah

            First off, what is to say I’m wrong about ownership? What is the reason why ownership is not better than renting?

            What is to say you’re right about ownership? What is the reason why renting is not better than ownership? That’s the point: my opinion is right for me, your opinion is right for you, Bob’s opinion is right for Bob. Put this renting vs. owning argument in the context of houses or cars or bowling shoes and balls: it is individual preference, and situation-dependent.

            And isn’t it simple enough that ownership is more lucrative than renting individual pieces?

            Yes, for you it is more lucrative under the current system for monetizing. That has no bearing on which is better for a consumer or the consumer’s preference – just like you care about what’s best for you, they care about what’s best for them. Do you care about whether renting or buying a car makes more money for the dealer? Of course not, you care about which is best for you.

            But where does the money come from? How is that determined? How do make sure that it is payed correctly? Does it come out of thin air? Or does it actually come from a source?

            1. from your audience.
            2. the same way most other prices are determined: supply and demand
            3. an accurate accounting system with sufficient information, just like businesses and sellers everywhere else make sure they get payed correctly from their customers.
            4. Ha, that’s cute 🙂
            5. see number 1. You think consumers should pay, I think consumers should pay, we agree that people can’t just get everything they want for free. What is the argument here?

          • superduper

            “That’s Cute”

            So explain. How does the money work?
            Current system: pari-mutuel system wherein the revenue of the total company is split amongst everybody else evenly based on licensing deals and stream numbers.

            Downloading: somebody buys a song, that revenue goes directly to the vendor, the artist and the shareholders.

            The problem is, what is the alternate to a pari-mutuel system in streaming? What is the alternative to that? And how do you make it work in the long-run for BOTH the vendor and the rights holders? In other words, Spotify is barely making money paying fractions of pennies, what makes you think that they can afford dimes?

            And really, when you get right down to it, the only way really is to make a cap. Make it a certain number of plays only and then pay them the equivalent of a download (so like 10 plays total=10 cents per play=1 dollar TOTAL). BUT that requires the ditching of streaming as a long-term format of playing music, and making it only temporary music rental only.

          • Sarah

            In other words, Spotify is barely making money paying fractions of pennies, what makes you think that they can afford dimes?

            Spotify can’t. It’s a crappy business model designed to focus on consumer growth, not on actually making money.

            Current system: pari-mutuel system wherein the revenue of the total company is split amongst everybody else evenly based on licensing deals and stream numbers.

            Downloading: somebody buys a song, that revenue goes directly to the vendor, the artist and the shareholders.

            A good system: somebody streams OR buys a song, that revenue goes directly to the vendor, the artist, and the rightsholders.

            Payment happens in the background, so it doesn’t feel like they’re paying.
            Single streams are probably correctly priced around 1-4 cents for the average song – low enough that virtually no one is going to hesitate over the cost, high enough to be a huge improvement in revenue. But artists set their own prices and can use windowing and exclusivities to maximize revenue.

            Before you object with “but what about the people on Spotify who listen ALL OF THE TIME, they won’t go for this” …. those people are heavy users; a subscription makes a lot of sense for them (although it should be a subscription that pays artists according to what the subscriber listens to, rather than subsidizing free users) and can exist seamlessly on the same platform. Most users are not heavy users, though.

            Most consumption is done by the casual, light users – who currently produce no revenue for you (ad revenue is close to “no revenue”). The heavy users are mostly already paying (they’re the ones subscribing and purchasing from iTunes/Bandcamp/wherever); you need to start also getting money from the much, much larger group of casual users. They’re probably never going to go for Spotify or iTunes, they already have those options and have rejected them; the chances of converting a significant number of those users to existing options are not good at all.

            But low, easy payments that only happen when they actually consume, don’t require any work on their part, and give them a better experience? That they might reasonably go for. 🙂

          • superduper

            You mention “setting their own prices,” “windowing”, and “exclusivities.”

            1) Artists cannot set their own prices if there is no prices to be set.
            2) Windowing=my system
            3) Exclusivities=limiting and pointless and even potentially a road to piracy if implemented in its truest, most pure form (i.e. that platform ONLY and nothing else)

            You also don’t seem to get that 1 cent is not actually a lot of money and yet it’s still too much for most music streaming platforms to pay for the artists.

          • Sarah

            1) Artists cannot set their own prices if there is no prices to be set.
            PAYG streaming marketplace. One platform, one account for users, lots of artists and lots of ways to spend money.

            2) Windowing=my system
            Windowing = our system. 🙂

            3) Exclusivities=limiting and pointless
            So …. don’t do it? It’s called “options” and “experimenting to find what actually works best instead of assuming.”

            You also don’t seem to get that 1 cent is not actually a lot of money and yet it’s still too much for most music streaming platforms to pay for the artists.

            Yes, I’m familiar with the idea that a penny is not much money. I assume you’re familiar with the idea that getting people to switch from not paying to paying is hard – there’s absolutely nothing you can do (barring some miraculous change in reality) to get a significant number of users to go from not paying anything for streaming to suddenly deciding they do actually want to regularly pay $1+ to purchase songs. Getting people to pay something is a pretty damn good step in the direction of actually getting more money out of them.

            Also, I assume you missed the part where I said “artists set their own prices” – you think your songs are worth more to your audience, charge more.

            most music streaming platforms

            This is a totally different business model. It’s not going to happen on any of the current leading platforms – and given that they’re all well-established, there’s no reason to think their revenues are going to grow significantly at this point.

          • superduper

            Can I ask why this is system is so convoluted? Nothing really makes any sense. And by your own admission it seems as if artists could do better under a different system as you say that even a penny per stream isn’t much. I mean what is actually wrong with limiting plays and then getting the person to buy? Why can’t a music rental service exist as what it should be: a temporary platform for testing music.

            Also define windowing. I have no idea what windowing is.

          • Sarah

            I mean what is actually wrong with limiting plays and then getting the person to buy?

            Nothing. That’s awesome as a business model – it’s what I’d aim for as an artist/label. Honestly, that’s essentially what we’re building for.

            Unfortunately, it’s not just about what’s best for the business: it’s also about the “getting the person to buy” part. You need your customers to decide to actually give you their money in exchange for your stuff. That means you need to set up packaging, presentation, and pricing such that they choose to pay you.

            In music, you face some serious challenges (like YouTube and Spotify) to making that happen in a sustainable way.

            It is totally possible, but it’s just not going to happen overnight and it will likely require extra care and attention to modifying consumer behaviors.

            Windowing is a form of exclusivity, but for limited periods of time designed to extract maximum value out of content (e.g., movies are released first exclusively in theaters, then available in other forms like on demand).

          • superduper

            Its just that its so easy to implement and it makes so much sense. So why can’t it happen overnight?

          • Sarah

            You can try. We’ll have that option pretty quickly, so artists are welcome to do exactly that; nothing would make me happier than your proving that it can happen overnight 🙂

            But I suspect that the reality is that it’s going to require a little more time and strategy in order to change consumer behavior for the typical audience. Moving from paid to free is easy; going the other way is hard. It can be done, but (unless suddenly both legal and illegal free options miraculously change) it’s likely going to take more than simply “okay, guys, start paying now.”

            If you want to talk more, I’d love to have a chat with you. You have important concerns and what you’re asking for is completely valid – it deserves a serious discussion about how we can make it happen successfully.

          • superduper

            One other thing: it is not about whether or not you store your file locally.
            Have you ever heard of iTunes Match? You can technically stream any file you own, but that’s the thing because you OWN it. You have BOUGHT it. And yes that is actually the main point.

          • superduper

            And F.Y.I. I don’t like iTunes Match but that’s basically my point is that streaming is made redundant by downloads because really it is better to store it locally.

  29. Kal

    Its a strange argument to say that Spotify music is for free. Its not since its financed with advert. so I dont get that it has something to do with copyrightlaw.

  30. Anonymous

    This is the dumbest idea I have ever heard. Jay-z, you keep using that word “Artist” I don’t think it means what you think it means. All you Rappers and Hip Hop artists are Manipulative scum bags that are destroying the healthy mentality of young minds.

    If you want V.I.P. passes, just make a profile account with the website of whatever music venue you attend. If you go to concerts, I promise that concert hall has a website and signing up for it is 99% of the time free, in fact, I can’t think of one music venue that costs money to receive emails from, and you can get V.I.P. access and discounts directly from the venue….. for free. You can also do this with most Artists webpage. If you are paying more than $20 for a ticket, you are either waiting until the last minute, or buying off of a POS third party website that is taking advantage of you.

    This Tidal is seriously a joke, and so is this news article by giving you twisted information.

  31. Anonymous

    Artist Rights My *ss! Is this a joke? They really expect musicians to buy the lie again? Say goodbye to your royalties- looks like they already set up a Swedish bank account. Sounds like a good cause- too bad it isn’t. That person’s name isn’t even Madonna (only criminals won’t tell their real name). Same thing over and over- just a new lie-them, ticket master, live nation held up in a 48,000 square foot building. It’s like saying goodbye to Gibson and every real musician left……I’m sick of the greedy pretending to be righteous!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Verify Your Humanity *