Amidst the hype, Jay-Z’s Tidal awkwardly fails to make a wave

Max Miranda, A&E Editor

On March 30, Deadmau5, Alicia Keys, Arcade Fire, Beyoncé, Calvin Harris, Coldplay, Daft Punk, J. Cole, Kanye West, Madonna, Usher, Nicki Minaj, and Rihanna joined Jay-Z in one room to back a relatively new music streaming service called Tidal aimed at changing the course of the arts. On March 31, the media hysterically laughed at a ridiculously out-of-touch press conference.

With all of these extremely popular artists converging on one night, the expectation was that at least a couple of albums were going to be released. However, Tidal found a way to disappoint spectacularly, as at the end of the 14-minute press conference they all signed some vague piece of paper. Nobody mentioned what it actually said.

Tidal was first created by a Norwegian company called Aspiro, which was acquired by Jay-Z’s corporation, Project Panther, in the first quarter of this year. Jay-Z then began a mass advertising campaign for Tidal using #TIDALforAll, and many celebrities changed their profile pictures to the color blue to advertise Tidal.

Now as for the idea, the whole premise of Tidal is to compensate artists more for their work. Main competitor Spotify has been criticized for only offering artists $.006 to $.0084 for each listen, and Tidal’s point is that this is not nearly enough. That argument is fine to make, but the public runs into a problem when these artists propose that they are changing the course of human history.

“Every great movement started with a group of people getting together, really just to make a stand. This collaboration feels so egoless. Everybody’s having a conversation. We really do have an opportunity to change the way we all experience art,” said co-owner Beyoncé in a promotional video for the company.

How are they “changing the way we all experience art” you might ask? The answer: slightly better sound quality. Pay an extra $10 a month and you can get even slightly better sound quality than that.And there is nothing egoless about a bunch of celebrities getting together, not to pitch new ideas, but to gratify themselves for joining in on a service that pays them more money than other services.

Truthfully, it is quite obvious that Tidal is offering absolutely nothing revolutionary, and every review of the streaming service has consistently praised their high sound quality but preferred Spotify because its iOS app is actually fully functional.

Such a lack of functionality has been completely reflected in subscriber numbers. Spotify has amassed 10 million subscribers while Tidal’s service has only grown a couple hundred thousand since being in the United States. This is especially weak considering the fact that each one of the eighteen artists who own it have more followers on Twitter than Tidal has total subscribers.

Though Jay-Z and company will continuously deny that Tidal competitors properly pay artists, Spotify has doled out over $1 billion last year alone, and while YouTube is more culpable, it has paid about the same amount over the last few years. xTidal has faced countless criticisms, and its owners have vigorously tried to defend the company, if in vain. On May 16 during a private concert for Tidal subscribers, Jay-Z took a time out of his show to make a freestyle about life. In which, he lumped incidents of racism across America (mentioning the deaths of Freddie Gray, Trayvon Martin, and Michael Brown) with the oppression he felt Spotify and Google had over artists. This was seen by many as offensive and a sign that Tidal really is struggling if it needs to be so broadly defended.

With only 7% of Spotify’s following, Tidal isn’t doing well. It seems like the average user will confirm that Tidal is more walking in circles than starting revolution.