Tidal puts consumers in tug-of-war

By Managing Editor

As a Columbia student, it almost feels wrong to reject an idea that is allegedly designed to support artists.

From musicians to photographers to journalists, many of today’s creative young adults are entering their industries in fear of lacking employment opportunities and inadequate pay for the jobs they do get.

In the wake of the launch of Tidal, Jay Z’s newly purchased streaming service co-owned by 16 of the industry’s other top names, fans and critics of the popular artists involved have turned against the service due to its pricing and exclusivity.

According to an April 6 Bloomberg Business report, fans’ fears were validated when Jay Z’s beloved debut album Reasonable Doubt was pulled from Spotify the same morning, just days after both Rihanna and Beyoncé released Tidal exclusives.

Beyoncé’s April 4 release was a surprise video for “Die For You,” a song dedicated to her seventh wedding anniversary to Jay Z, according to an April 6 Vox article.

Rihanna already released “B—h Better Have My Money” and “American Oxygen” off her upcoming album exclusively through the subscription service, and these exclusive releases are sending some fans into a panic.

Jay Z and his friends may claim they simply want to restore value to the music and fight for the art, but considering the heavyweight artists investing in the service, there are certainly other ways they could please both the music artists and the consumers.

While it is definitely ideal to be able to promise to provide music artists with double the amount of royalties they’re used to receiving, as representatives for the service reportedly told The Verge March 30, the gesture is much less impressive when the total cost of the service also must be doubled in order to deliver on the promise.

Another major draw to Tidal that alienates countless music consumers is the presence of all of Taylor Swift’s music through its subscription.

Swift’s aversion to allowing her latest album 1989 to be available to stream on Spotify was a major point of contention among her fans, many of whom are of a younger generation and might be too young to have the necessary funds to commit to Tidal.

But the larger problem isn’t just how Tidal affects Swift fans, but whether or not the combination of Tidal-exclusives and the new trend of major artists pulling their albums from Spotify and bringing them to Tidal is going to force fans to choose between services.

Most young adults probably won’t be willing or able to pay for subscriptions to multiple streaming services simultaneously, especially if the price range for a single service continues to stretch upwards of $20 per month.

Upon first hearing of Jay Z’s purchase of Tidal, it seemed like a worthy effort to ensure artists aren’t cheated out of the compensation they deserve.

However, as time passes, it appears to be less about valuing the art itself and more about making more money and polarizing the industry.