A Music Industry Revolution or A One Percent Hustle?

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 Last week, Jay-Z announced with the a bevy of music superstars at his side that they were launching a new music streaming service named Tidal. Tidal was created from the acquisition of a Norwegian company for about $65 million big ones. The investors in this project include some of the largest artists in the world from Daft Punk, to Chris Martin of Coldplay, to Madonna. The talking point was that Tidal was the world’s first global artist owned music streaming service. The question remains: how will this impact small, independent artists?

Spotify, the largest music streaming service, pays the artists only fractions of a penny per stream.This payment model equals out to be only slightly better than not receiving shit for the artist. My first question for Tidal would be what is the compensation per stream? One would assume that if a company mission statement is to be more artist friendly, then the compensation would be one more equitable to the artist. But you know what they say about assuming…

My second question is how will Tidal seek investment? Their monthly rate of 20 dollars monthly is higher than any other streaming service but most likely won’t cover all the costs to run the company. Will they allow other artists to invest for a share in the company? Will it be run as a cooperative or just as an employee-owned corporation?  Will the company just be a vehicle for these established one percenter artist to cash in at the expense of the under-capitalized  majority? My guess, due to the pressures of capitalism, would be the later. A world where artists are exploiting other artists isn’t new, but doing so under the guise of altruism on this scale is a new phenomena. I hope I am ultimately wrong.

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