As compelling as Jay Z’s B-Sides concert freestyle was, we’re having a hard time feeling bad for rich artists who want more money.
On March 30, celebs like Nicki Minaj, Madonna, Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Usher, Kanye West, Jay Z and Beyonce assembled at Skylight at Moynihan Station in New York City for a press conference which resembled, more than anything, an Illuminati meeting of the highest rank. The group of industry elite was made up of those selected to be at the forefront of Jay Z’s latest business acquisition, TIDAL.
Rumblings about Hov’s venture were rampant that month as trailers leading up to the cryptic conference flooded social media. United, the artists involved changed their social media avi’s to a blue square and tweets like #TIDALforall sprinkled their timelines. That’s when we realized, oh, this is huge. Anticipation lingered as we waited for Jay to explain why he had reached into his gold Rolodex and called on his most popular friends to back the music-streaming service that promises high-definition music videos with curated editorial. We waited in anticipation while Spotify, no doubt, shit their pants.
Finally the conference of the century rolled around and like the eager journalists and consumers we are, we tuned in to watch history be made. There was Beyonce, barely covered in a skimpy shorts set, black bling strategically placed between her exposed cleavage and a cape (because of course she wore that). Rihanna, in true Rihanna-fashion, showed up in a powder blue blazer (but skipped pants) and Jay … well Jay looked Jay.
Alicia Keys spoke on behalf of her rich peers,”We come together before you on this day, March 30th, 2015, with one voice in unity in the hopes that today will be another one of those moments in time, a moment that will forever change the course of music history. For today we announce the launch of TIDAL — the first ever artist-owned global music entertainment platform. Our goal is simple, we want to create a better service and a better experience for both fans and artists.”
Her comments and all of the hoopla surrounding the press conference left us scratching our heads, wondering, is THAT what we waited for? A big, vague statement suggesting that these artists are like activists?
But, in the interest of being fair, we tapped entertainment lawyer/author Kendall Minter for translation, just to make sure we were understanding things correctly. He told us:
“[Jay] set TIDAL up to be like a co-op, where instead of just being sharecroppers, artists own a piece of the pie of TIDAL. That’s the concept. The artists will have the opportunity to have a share in the bigger pie. It’s kind of like when you’re a member of a co-op — there’s no big profit participation that goes to the company. So the monies that are made are spread out and distributed to the members, as opposed to the majority of money staying for the shareholders and the people who provide the music being paid a small fraction. The money flows to the people who are providing the music and owning it.”
“Ok, we can get down with this,” we thought. We’re all about supporting Black business. After all, we paid an average of $342.67 for the On The Run Tour and Beyonce took home $229.7 million from her Mrs. Carter Show World Tour, which is probably $229 million more than Blue Ivy will need to go to college.
And then we started really thinking — are we being taken for fools in these very rich people’s games?
The TIDAL app became available shortly after the constitution-like signing and curiosity led most to download it. But unlike it’s competitors, TIDAL offered no free version. Just a free 30-day trial that we knew would end in us forgetting to cancel it before being charged. Regular TIDAL service costs $9.99 and $21.99 for audio enhanced service, whereas Spotify’s premium product costs $9.99.
According to TIDAL’s website, the streaming service will boast exclusive content (and since Beyoncé is his wife, we assume that translates to tons of exclusive Beyoncé content) that would separate it from the rest. And that was true. So far, Rihanna has released a really boring video on there, Erykah Badu dropped a Black Western (don’t ask), Beyoncé invited us into her home for an a capella version of her anniversary song “Die With You.” Ok cool, that was a nice few minutes of our life. But then what?
And then, just as we were questioning it, TIDAL dropped out of the Top 700 iTunes downloads. Jay Z and his famous posse were likely left scratching their heads. How could THEY, the biggest musicians in the world, be headed for failure?
The very simple answer is that Jay Z has become so disconnected that he doesn’t realize that most fans aren’t concerned about putting MORE money into his, Beyoncé’s, Rihanna’s or Kanye West’s fat-ass Balmain pockets. Beyonce douses herself in thousand dollar wine. She don’t need no more money! That’s not to say we won’t purchase an album when it comes out, or continue to pay $10 for Spotify, but anything over that is just not an expense we’re going to include in our budgets just to increase yours. Sorry, Nicki Minaj, we loved “Roman’s Revenge” just like the next Barb, but we’re not concerned with your money woes. Not when most of your fans are living paycheck-to-paycheck.
Also missing in TIDAL’s equation are the smaller artists of the worlds. Yeah Jay and Bey, we listen to other musicians besides you. Do they also benefit from the Declaration of TIDAL independence? We didn’t see them sign their names? Or is it only the richest of richest banding together to keep each other richer than the rest of the world?
So no, we’re not here for TIDAL and a hearing the richest musicians in the world cry about how little they make off other music streaming services.
Go sell your I’m-rich-but-I-need-to-be-richer problems some place else.