Jay Z and his many artist friends (and now business partners) -- from Beyoncé to Nicki Minaj to Kanye West to Rihanna -- made waves on Monday with the launch of their joint venture, Tidal, a music streaming service which Hov purchased recently for $56 million, and which those artists and others now have stake in.
The major differentiators between Tidal and competitors like Spotify is both that Tidal does not have a free subscription option -- you can either sign up for a $9.99 standard version, or the $19.99 premium, whereas Spotify offers a free version and a $9.99 paid service -- and that, unlike competitors, it is owned by artists and, it seems, is for artists.
"It’s about the future of the music business," Jay said in an interview with Billboard yesterday.
As for what that means, it sounds like it's twofold. The first part is that, unlike other streaming services, he hopes it will offer more than just song streams, and encourage creativity in artists.
"What if it’s a video offering tickets to the next concert, or what if it’s audio or video of the recording process?" he said. "It could be anything. It could be them at home listening to songs that inspire them. Anything they want to offer, you know; just be as creative as possible, that’s the only charge, really. Make it look really good and make everyone that consumes it think, 'Man, I got something really great.'
"[I hope] artists come here and start making songs 18 minutes long, or whatever. I know this is going to sound crazy, but maybe they start attempting to make a 'Like a Rolling Stone,' you know, a song that doesn’t have a recognizable hook, but is still considered one of the greatest songs of all time, the freedom that this platform will allow art to flourish here. And we’re encouraging people to put it in any format they like. It doesn't have to be three minutes and 30 seconds. What if it’s a minute and 17, what if it’s 11; you know, just break format. What if it’s just four minutes of just music and then you start rapping?"
Another goal Hov has for the service is that it will more fairly compensate artists.
"If everyone says, 'Wow, so many things have changed. This has gotten better. I like what's happening,'" he said, when asked how he'll judge success. "If Aloe Blacc and his writers, the guys he wrote with, are not seeing a $4,000 check from 168 million streams. They did their job, they worked, they done it. The people loved it, the people consumed it. Where’d it go? People didn’t pay or stream Aloe Blacc’s music for it to turn into vapor and go into the air. Where is it?"
Hov's reference to Aloe Blacc is likely no coincidence. The singer and songwriter has been vocal recently about issues with copyright laws, publishing, loss of control for artists, and payments for artists, including a recent appearance on "Real Time With Bill Maher," which you can watch below.
"Will artists make more money?" Jay concluded. "Even if it means less profit for our bottom line, absolutely. That’s easy for us. We can do that. Less profit for our bottom line, more money for the artist; fantastic. Let’s do that today."