Yesterday Jay Z got his rich music friends together to sign on to launch a new streaming service to compete with the likes of Spotify. Tidal doesn’t really do anything different or better than Spotify, though. What it does accomplish, is give artists a means to profit more from streaming services than they currently do in the current market. Essentially, Jay and company are asking us to help line their pockets out of the kindness of our hearts and desire to see them get richer. The entire fiasco was a money grab and it reeked of desperation and pretentiousness.
The celebrities took the stage, somber-faced and melodramatic as if they were signing the Emancipation Proclamation and asked us to help them. The same artists who can’t stop singing songs about how rich they are suddenly need us to line their pockets a bit more. That’s not going to happen and Tidal is going to fail.
You might think I’m just “hating” because I don’t have the money to pay for a subscription service like Tidal.
Well, that’s true.
I just don’t have $19.99 a month to spend on a music service. Because I have $900 Kanye sweaters to buy and I don’t know the next time Jay and Beyonce might tour together; those $275 balcony seats aren’t going to buy themselves. So excuse me if I pinch some pennies here and there, starting with a service created solely to make sure you have more money than you did last week.
What’s more insulting about the Tidal press conference is the self-importance the musicians thrust upon the entire production. They treated their right to earn more money for streams like it was the new Civil Rights Movement (which isn’t a far stretch for Kanye, who’s compared the right to not get photo’d by paparazzi to the actual Civil Rights Movement). Just look at one of Alicia Keys’ comments about her quest for freedom or whatever:
“We’re gathered…with one voice in unity in the hopes that today will be another one of those moments in time, a moment that will forever change the course of music history.”
They even quoted Nietzche for crying out loud. It’s absurd and every person on that stage was totally oblivious to the stupidity taking place before our eyes. Essentially Jay Z wants to take money from one billion-dollar organization and give it to his other almost-as-rich cronies. Especially in light of the fact we’ve still yet to hear a single person on that stage (aside from J. Cole) say anything about the actual new Civil Rights Movement taking place in America.
If you would have told me a few months ago that Jay Z, Kanye West, J. Cole, Beyonce and other rich people had come to sign an important proclamation, I would have imagine – maybe too optimistically – that they would have joined to sign a statement that they wouldn’t perform in Missouri until the Ferguson police department were overhauled. Or that they wouldn’t do any New York shows until the NYPD overhauls its policy on police brutality.
Anything important that we care about. Instead, the Jays and Kanyes have stayed silent on the actual issues that matter while pretending that their quest for a few extra millions is as important as the fight we’re facing on a daily basis. That, people, is the definition of “tone deaf.”
I’m sorry, Jay. I won’t be spending a dime on your little music service. But I’ll acknowledge its existence. I’ll talk about it with my friends and I may even tweet about what’s on the site. So no, you won’t get my money. But I’ll still listen to your music. Maybe, then, my presence will be charity enough for you.
David Dennis, Jr. is a writer and editor based out of Atlanta (but it’s still WHO DAT all day). He’s currently an editor at Moguldom Media whose writing has appeared in The Guardian, The Smoking Section, Uproxx, Playboy, CNN Money, The Source, Complex.com and wherever people argue about things on the Internet. He’s a New Orleans Press Club award recipient and has been cited in Best Music Writing. He’s also a proud alum of Davidson College.