The hits keep coming for Jay Z’s Tidal streaming service, and we’re not talking about all those quickly-pillaged exclusives from its group of superstar artist-investors. Since re-launching in late March at a confusing event in New York City, Tidal has been playing a lot of defense, mainly for its reputation as a club for “music’s one percent” (equity holders include Beyonce and Rihanna) and for not focusing more on smaller and indie artists who are struggling to make a living.
In the past couple of weeks, several notable artists have begun poo-pooing Tidal’s efforts, including Mumford & Sons and Lily Allen. The latest indictment comes from Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard, who told The Daily Beast that Jay Z had a chance to stand up for the little guy but he “blew it.” His consultant hat firmly in place, Gibbard rattles off what the mogul and his executives should have done.
“If I had been Jay Z, I would have brought out ten artists that were underground or independent and said, ‘These are the people who are struggling to make a living in today’s music industry. Whereas this competitor streaming site pays this person 15 cents for X amount of streams, that same amount of streams on my site, on Tidal, will pay that artist this much… I think they totally blew it by bringing out a bunch of millionaires and billionaires and propping them up onstage and then having them all complain about not being paid.
“There was a wonderful opportunity squandered to highlight what this service would mean for artists who are struggling and to make a plea to people’s hearts and pocketbooks to pay a little more for this service that was going to pay these artists a more reasonable streaming rate, and they didn’t do it. That’s why this thing is going to fail miserably.”
• Days earlier, Marcus Mumford and his bandmates were also asked by Daily Beast about Tidal, a topic that was “greeted by a series of loud fart sounds” according to the site. As previously reported, Mumford laced into the service, which offers CD-quality audio streaming, as a “tribalistic” club the band wouldn’t have joined if asked.
“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.
“What I’m not into is the tribalistic aspect of it — people trying to corner bits of the market, and put their face on it. That’s just commercial bullsh-t. We hire people to do that for us rather than having to do that ourselves. We just want to play music, and I don’t want to align myself with Spotify, Beats, Tidal, or whatever. We want people to listen to our music in their most comfortable way, and if they’re not up for paying for it, I don’t really care.”
• British musician and producer Bobby Krlic, who performs under the moniker
Haxan Cloak, had a different criticism for Tidal. He is accusing the company of ripping off his tension-building composition, titled “Mara”, in the teaser video for Tidal’s launch on March 30. “This is so shameful,” he said in a since-deleted tweet. “Thanks for not getting in touch and ripping me off, Tidal.” In another deleted tweet, Haxan Cloak clarified that “I’m not saying Tidal used my music; I’m saying they used an imitation of it. This happens to artists way too often.”