Update 4/21/2015: Tidal declared "Failure"
(less than a month after writing this).
My heart goes out to those select artists and celebrities who whine about not making enough money. Artists like Jay-Z, Madonna, Kanye, Rihanna, Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Chris Martin, and others backing the Tidal music streaming service... they are just scraping by aren't they? I mean, with pesky little net worths in the tens of millions, or even hundreds of millions, how do they get by? Bless their poor detached hearts.
One of the funniest things that happens when rich people get bored is they get involved in expensive hobbies. They tend to call these activities, "business." It just feels so much better to be in a "start-up" and call it a "business", especially if you are "revolutionizing" something. But what if your business sets out to revolutionize something that doesn't need revolutionizing? Uh oh...
Enter Tidal, yet another music streaming service that is designed to better support the artist. And like any good startup, Tidal doesn't fail us on their focus to diversify themselves in the market place. Setting themselves apart, Tidal provides the listener the unique opportunity to pay double for their music. That's it. That's the angle. Quite an elevator pitch isn't it? Instead of paying something like $0 (ie, Pandora, Grooveshark, etc..), fans now get the incredible opportunity to pay $19.95/month for music streaming via Tidal. After being gouged, they can sleep well knowing they're supporting the artist. It's the "future of streaming" Jay-Z says.
Those calling Tidal a day late and dollar short are being too kind. Tidal is several years late and $19.95 too expensive. And this just in (queue breaking news alert), fans don't really want to pay for music. Wait, what?! I can feel you not exclaiming, "You mean to tell me people want free music?!?! Say it isn't so!"
Let's take a quick trip down memory lane. AllMP3. Napster. Freenet. Kazaa. LimeWire. [fill-in-the-blank].ru. Grooveshark. Pandora. Spotify. Moral of the story? Or should I say immoral of the story (in some cases)? If you give people the opportunity to listen to free music, people will take it. Do we really need to argue this point again? Popular streaming services like Grooveshark are legal, free, & interactive. Ah, that feels good. In fact, free, legal, and interactive feels real good. A bloated $19.95/month for the same thing does not feel good. Charging $240/year to listen and not own anything doesn't feel good at all. It's way too much, and it won't work.
Remember when Lars Ulrich (drummer for Metallica), fought against Napster? "Free music is wrong," he said. "Support the artists," he demanded. The case settled and he was viewed as a hero right? The listening public's love for Lars (and Metallica) grew and grew, launching him on a path to dethrone Julia Roberts, and take over the crown of America's Sweetheart, right? Well, not so much. Sadly, he is the butt of jokes on radio stations nationwide to this day, 15 years later.
So, recording artists of the world, let me share this with you. We (the fans) absolutely support you. We love paying for music... when you're small. We love helping you go from full time food server to full time musician. We tell our friends about you. We show up to your shows. We buy your merch. We are your product evangelist, and we work for free. We eagerly wait to applaud your awards, and watch you launch into super stardom. And then, we endure asinine ticket prices to see you sell out your arena tour. While there, we take a thousand pictures of you and plaster them all over social media. We want you to "make it". We live vicariously through you while you travel the world on private jets with staff and servants in tow. It's a wonderful experience for us. And it's not so bad for you either.
However, once you make it, please do not come whining to us about not making enough money. You want to piss and moan over royalties? Take that sad story to the writers, producers, publishers, and labels. Go back in the studio and add a word and take a third. Own your music. Play it out. Fight your greedy label. Basically, go figure it out. But don't you dare pass your gold plated problems on to the fans.