*UPDATE* – 4/26/2015


Yesterday, Jay-Z came to Tidal’s defense with a “stream of consciousness” via twitter.

In this 14-tweet series of #TidalFacts, Jay-Z attempts to make a case for his streaming service. However, a few of his arguments are flawed. For example, although Tidal has over 770,000, over 500,000 of those were subscriptions to Aspiro, the already-existing streaming service Jay-Z bought in October 2014 and eventually renamed. I do appreciate that HOVA goes out of his way to make a case for the up-and-coming indie musician in his twitter rant, but I still don’t believe that this service benefits the struggling musician nor the fan at this moment. I hope they can prove me wrong.



Upon first glance, there is no reason to dislike Tidal. Between the smooth, sleek user interface, superior audio quality, and the fact that it is “artist owned,” the new music streaming service seems like a great competitor to Spotify and Pandora. However, it only takes one wrong business move to change that all in a matter of days.

On Thursday, April 23, 2015, a report was released that the notorious music streaming service co-owned by Jay-Z, had gone from being the 23rd most downloaded app in late March, to the 872nd. To say that the “Tidal wave” has come crashing down would be a large understatement. The extreme downfall in the app’s popularity simultaneously coincided with a rise in both Spotify and Pandora’s status as the 3rd and 4th most downloaded app, respectively. Unfortunately this isn’t the only bad press that the streaming app has recently received.

While rapper, celebrity, and part-owner Kanye West has come around to voice his support for Tidal (after supposedly deleting all of his previous tweets in support of the flailing service), many respected musicians have come out against the program such as Mumford & Sons and Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard. Steve Albani even stated that the streaming service is more likely to encourage music piracy because of its higher price point of $20 a month and exclusive content released by other celebrity part-owners like Beyonce and Rihanna. With the release of Neil Young’s PonoPlayer, iTunes’ Beats Music, and Google Play, the music streaming service marketplace has become quite competitive, allowing the music consumer to pick choose which production qualities are most important.

Tidal’s underlying message is a noble one; all artists deserve fair compensation for their music. Although it is a higher price to pay, it is a message that most music lovers can get behind; we all want to see our favorite musicians prosper and create more music to share with the world. So what went wrong? How did Jay-Z, arguably the biggest music mogul in the music industry, end up as the as the primary owner of one of the biggest flops in the business?

The answer is that it’s all a matter of perspective. Tidal’s star-studded introduction to the world could be viewed celebrities uniting for a great cause or as the 1% of the music industry displaying their power.

As you can see above, Jay-Z proudly stood alongside his musician co-owners as he introduced his sleek streaming service to the world. These co-owners are not only gigantic superstars in their own right, but they also happen to be multi-millionaires with their fortunes growing larger by the minute.  Madonna, Jack White, Alicia Keys, and Daft Punk (among others) are extremely talented and have contributed quite a bit to music history, yet they absolutely do not represent the majority of the music community in any way, shape, or form.

Today’s musician constantly struggles to get noticed. Even those who are up-and-coming still work multiple day jobs and simply perform for the love of the art. These are the musicians who should benefit from a more expensive service like this, not celebrities who have other means. When discussing the impact of Tidal, Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons, a band that for all intents and purposes has made it, said the following:

“We wouldn’t have joined it anyway, even if they had asked. We don’t want to be tribal. I think smaller bands should get paid more for it, too. Bigger bands have other ways of making money, so I don’t think you can complain. A band of our size shouldn’t be complaining. And when they say it’s artist-owned, it’s owned by those rich, wealthy artists.” 

If Jay-Z featured a handful of up-and-comers alongside today’s top selling artists at the press conference, this would not be up for conversation.

As mentioned above, Tidal aims to be a super sleek music streaming service. Its black and bright blue user interface, exclusive music and music videos from celebrity co-owners, and superior audio quality could have made this the top streaming music service in the country. However, a combination of factors such as the $20 per month price tag, the bad PR moves, and the terrible press the company received in return, led the whole company concept to come crashing down. It is unfortunate that an artist-owned streaming service has fallen this fast. Yet if Tidal focused more on the artist, and less on the celebrity, then more people would be willing to buy the service. Without that focus, we might as well continue to use Spotify.


– Marisa Frydman (@musicalmarisa)