The music industry has streaming to thank for its $1.6 billion digital revenue sales in 2016. Streaming, for those unfamiliar, is a method of delivering music to an audience without having to download it as a file. Streaming services attract users to their sites by the appeal of not having to purchase individual songs. It remains to be the industry’s fastest growing revenue source in 2015 when it passed physical format sales for the first time in history.
I could on and on about the logistics of what streaming is and how consumers use it, but that isn’t my intention. What many people turn a blind eye to is the harm that some of the top streaming services of today have caused for independent and signed artists. If you have no read my previous article about music ethics when it comes to streaming, you can access it here.
Many streaming services have editorial tastes and recommend corporate-funded labels on site “Discover” pages, sponsored by advertisements, at the expense of smaller artists. Artist payout on streaming sites is also very alarming. I found this Infographic to be very helpful when comparing services. To some artists like Chance the Rapper, making money from streaming is not the end goal. However, unlike Chance, many artists without three Grammy’s in the same year cannot afford (literally) to survive in the slippery slope of artist’s royalties from streaming. Cue: a need for some intervention.
In comes Tidal. 2015 was a time when several high-profile artists like Taylor Swift and Prince spoke out against the music streaming services and stripped their music from services like Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music, and more. Tidal launched in October of 2014 by Jay-Z and a coalition of other artists including but not limited to Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, Kanye West, and J. Cole that offers over 40 million songs and 130,000 music videos.
Tidal’s business model is simple: support artists, deliver high-quality music that fans deserve and create a sustainable music industry. Tidal offers no free streaming but only paid subscriptions. Many consider Tidal to be an epic business fail, but it is still a work in progress. Its prices are steeper than other streaming services, but the quality of music and benefit to all parties outweighs the difference in my opinion.
You are probably wondering: “why does the world need another streaming service when there are already so many available?” Tidal is not about a new service, its goal is to create a platform that serves the greater good for both artists and fans. As both a fan of music and advocate for artist rights when it comes to the music industry, I do not see why more people aren’t using Tidal. Music, in its simplest form, is art. Technology should not take away from what makes music beautiful, it should enhance that.