The big news in the music world in the last few weeks has definitely been Jay Z’s huge launch of new streaming site Tidal, but how successful will it actually be? With a massive launch party on March 30th with supporters including the likes of Kanye West, Jack White, Daft Punk, Madonna, Beyonce and Arcade Fire, Tidal offers a high quality streaming service running as a competitor to the likes of Spotify, which often comes under fire for its ‘poor payments’ to artists. However, the service has most certainly divided opinion, in contrast to Alicia Key’s view that, the launching of Tidal will ‘forever change the course of music history’, Lilly Allen stated earlier this week that the service will make people ‘swarm back to pirate sites in droves’. To what extent will Jay Z’s new service change the face of music?
Firstly, it has to be said that I’ve never actually used Tidal, mainly due to its far more expensive sign up price, and do instead frequently use Spotify’s free alternative. Personally I cannot see Tidal conquering Spotify, a site that currently has over 600 million users compared to Tidal’s mere 540,000 and offers a huge catalogue to music of varying genres to its subscribes for free. Although there are some musicians that have reacted against Spotify, including the likes of Taylor Swift and Jay Z, removing some of their music off of the site as a backlash to what they viewed as the underpaying of their artistic merits, how many artists are realistically going to alienate themselves from a potentially huge user base in favour of Tidal? Whereas I can not comment on the quality of sound between the different streaming sites, are people really going to flock to Tidal for a supposedly superior quality of sound?
Furthermore, where Tidal claims to better protect ‘artists interests’, a more cynical view could criticise the launch as a bunch of super wealthy pop stars complaining that they’re not getting paid enough. I personally believe that Spotify can be hugely beneficial for up and coming undiscovered artists, giving such bands and musicians a platform to be discovered by wider audiences in a way that wasn’t possible before the introduction of such cheap streaming sites. After all, it is widely documented that artists don’t make significant amounts of money through album sales and are instead more reliant on live performances, something that the exposure Spotify offers up and coming bands can be highly significant.
One of the more unfortunate side effects of the rise of music streaming sites is the forever declining album sales, especially in the UK. I still collect, CDs and have built an expansive collection over numerous years, however this idea of physically owning music is most certainly dying out. Despite the rise of Vinyl sales, primarily due to it being seen more as a fashion statement amongst hipsters, it is clear that streaming sites are the direction that music is destined to head in the future.
Whilst both sites certainly have their merits, I cannot see Tidal trumping the huge monopoly that Spotify has over the music streaming inustry. In an ever changing musical landscape I do not believe that Tidal is the ‘revolutionary’ service many high profile musicians are making it out to be and more an attempt to further line the pockets of the industry’s rich and wealthy.