Jay-Z’s TIDAL: How Could A Music Genius Become So Tone Deaf?

Credit: Factmag

Credit: Factmag

When I learned what TIDAL was, my enthusiasm was dropkicked through the window.

I watched a video where Jay-Z held a meeting with some of the biggest names in music. Madonna, Beyonce, Kanye, Daft Punk, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna and so many more were in the same room for this montage of awesome. Alicia Keys and Usher were on Skype. AW SNAP! In the 2-minute video, Jay-Z said they were going to be changing the world and mentioned something named TIDAL. I was very impressed, because I just knew that anything that involved the collaboration of so many icons had to be epic and groundbreaking. I didn’t know what TIDAL was, but I was inspired.

And then I learned what TIDAL was, and my enthusiasm was dropkicked through the window. Long story short, it’s an expensive Spotify that is majority owned by the artists.

Oh. Well that was more anti-climactic than the one-minute man that Missy rapped about.

1. How in the hell did Jay-Z get all those people in one room at same time? I am hella impressed that they were all able to align their schedules to make that happen. What voodoo did they do to find one day in their crazy lives to get together for a long meeting? Me and four of my friends can’t even fix our schedule to go to brunch. It once took us an entire year to plan a trip to our favorite restaurant in Chicago. ONE. YEAR.

2. What will make people sign up for this new streaming service? They have no free plan, and they offer two tiers: $10 a month (which will provide regular streaming) and $20 a month (for CD quality losslessness I guess). If what it’s offering at the $20 level is making Kanye’s bad singing clearer in my headphones, then I might ask them to pay ME some money.

I just don’t see what will make me drop that money when I’m already using Spotify for free. In terms of supporting music I love, I’m perfectly fine buying what I really like from iTunes and listening to the rest on YouTube. Don’t listen to me, though. I still mostly listen to 90s R&B, so I’m probably not the target for this.

3. Why did they overpromise and underdeliver? That trailer made this project sound deeper than rap. Shoutout to whoever the director of it was, because the power of storytelling is the ability to use 2 minutes to trick people into thinking what you’re working on is going to actually make the Earth move.

4. Is this the real solution to music’s business model problem? It’s no secret that the music business cheats artists at times. However, what does another platform that competes with multiple others that already exist really do to transform that? This isn’t rhetorical. I actually want to know.

5. If they could get ALL those powerhouses in one room for this, can they get them in a room to address social justice issues? Do you understand the amount of power and money that was in the room for that TIDAL meetup? The things they could do if they actually really put their collective power behind an actual world-changing initiative.

I should be careful what I ask for, because some of our favorite celebrities have lost touch (or never even had it) with the state of affairs (See: Raven Symone). Some of them are so foolish that they think their wealth supersedes their Blackness so they identify more with rich than color. Maybe I should be careful what I ask for, because they might get together to do some backwards shit like fund prisons or give to lobbyists who want to militarize police. We might be wishing for too much from them. In the NYTimes article about TIDAL, Jay-Z even said:

“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.”

Sir, water is actually not free. In fact, there are politicians who are currently working on privatizing it because they don’t think people have a right to drinking water. There are countries where people do not have access to clean water. The point is: Jay-Z’s already wrong, and he’s just starting. So yeah, maybe I shouldn’t ask for them to plug into social activism. Although I am a firm believer of using your platform for the Greater Good, I need people to also be slightly informed before speaking up. I might be asking for too much.

6. What were the artists signing at the TIDAL press conference? Apparently it was some declaration, but we aren’t privy to what they were declaring. Also, why was it all that dramatic? Bless their hearts. They really tried to sell it hard to the public, as they stand on a stage, collectively worth billions of dollars and feeling underappreciated for their art.

7. Why was Rihanna dressed like head of the church usher board for the signing? The tweed lilac suit with the pin curls sitting atop of her head made me want to ask her if she got any strawberry candy in her purse. Did she have on matching lilac dyeable slingbacks to make the outfit really right? I must know.

My friend Rockfish Monroe wraps it all up neatly with:

“Can we talk about jacking social justice tactics to push a service backed by already really rich people? This ain’t philanthropy; this a venture to make money and these tactics feel gross. It reeks of greed and being out of touch with your customers. You want 1 million paying $20/month or 100 million paying $8/month? It’s just extreme capitalism asking the consumer for another dime when their fight is with labels. It just doesn’t feel good or pure or about the art.”

drops mic

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