Millionaires Unite! That Icky Feeling We Get from TIDAL


Today in New York, it was revealed that the Jay Z-led lossless CD-quality audio and visual streaming tidal2service, TIDAL, is an artist-owned platform.

“We want to create a better service and experience for fans and artists,” explained Alicia Keys, one of the many multi-millionaire co-owners of TIDAL to take the stage. “Our mission goes beyond commerce and technology.”

In addition to Jay Z and Keys, Jack White, Madonna, Beyonce, Daft Punk, members of Arcade Fire, Chris Martin, Deadmau5, Kanye West, Rihanna and others have put their names behind TIDAL, as owners of a service supposedly designed “to re-establish the value of music.”

After delivering a cringe-worthy ra-ra-ra speech that seemed aimed at convincing music enthusiasts that this is a service meant for more than better bank account balances for rich musicians, the high-profile artists ceremoniously walked to the podium and signed a “declaration.” Oh yes, what’s a dog and pony show without the signing of an enlarged, mystery piece of paper? 

I guess that’s not bad for a service that still really hasn’t been explained or demonstrated. You see, nothing was really said at this launch event. If anything, it was a living, breathing press release filled with big names, hollow words and little proof of the promised awesomeness.

It felt icky. But, at least Kanye didn’t jump to the mic and suggest that Beyonce’s signature was better than everyone else’s.

Right now, here’s what we know: TIDAL will offer two subscription options :$19.99 a month for “Lossless High Fidelity sound quality. High definition music videos. Expertly curated editorial.” The $9.99 monthly package includes “Standard sound quality. High definition music videos. Expertly curated editorial.” Both come with 30-day free trials.

What we also know, is that today TIDAL presented itself as a revolutionary company, without really explaining how the revolution will be executed. Yes, exclusive content was promised, but not yet displayed. At least when Apple gets braggy, they show us how its stuff works.

Furthermore, we were shown that some of the richest artists in the world are seemingly pissed off about the cuts they receive from Apple, Spotify and similar streaming services. They want the control; they want to dictate the value of the art. That’s all fine and good – they should control that to some degree.

But, by presenting themselves as the whipping boys and whoa-is-me-collective of a music industry that has filled their Jacuzzis with money while less successful artists sleep in cold vans and play for gas money, it’s hard to feel sympathy here.

TIDAL may be a great thing eventually, but today it came off as a venture for people who live remarkably comfortable lives, but still feel compelled to complain about a little tarnish on their silver spoons.

-Adam Grant

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