The problem with the TIDAL press conference on Monday wasn’t just that it was a weird, ultimately self-serving event to watch. People were still unconvinced that TIDAL was going to work.
So now Jay Z and the “Avengers” have to set out to win the public over. The students at NYU’s Clive Davis Institute Of Recorded Music benefitted from that quest as Jay Z and TIDAL executive Vania Schlogel visited for a Q&A.
To their credit, they were much more specific about their plans and hopes for TIDAL, albeit still a little bit idealistic. Here are some of the highlights:
On possible student discounts for TIDAL:
Vania Schlogel: Yes. When we look at the data, the data says that students don’t really care about paying for streaming. I actually don’t believe that, necessarily — I think that this demographic here, sitting in the room, cares very deeply about music. I think in fact that a lot of you have a deeper emotional connection with music than any data says. And so the short answer for that is, absolutely yes, because we want you all to be Team TIDAL and to be a part of this.
On giving shine to indie artists:
V: There is that difficulty, I know, with other services. I’m not a musician, but some of my friends are and they tell me “I had to go through an aggregator, I had to wait six months for this and that and nobody paid attention to me.” And these are all things that we hear and that are very personal to us, and that we are addressing. The truth of the matter is, we took control of this company a few weeks ago. We’re still a very young, nascent company and we have a lot of initiatives that we’re working on, especially when it comes to indie talent, emerging talent, giving people visibility, giving people a forum to put their music up and giving them control of their distribution and their creative content, how they want to communicate with their fans. Those are all initiatives, and that one specifically is something that we’re working on addressing.
Jay Z: As well as having a discovery program, where established artists can take things that they like and just showcase them. It’s all about paying it forward and working very cyclically and discovering new music. Imagine if Win from Arcade Fire puts up an artist that he discovered in Haiti — and he had this idea, actually, I don’t want to step on his idea — and through the curation process gets something really good and introduces it to the world. And then the world is inspired by that sound. It gets a little ethereal from there, but just the possibilities of what TIDAL can do are really exciting, on a creative front.
So hopefully Drake won’t be The Cosign anymore.
V: The royalty rates will be higher than other services. In addition to that, there won’t be that free tier that’s been depressing the recorded music industry, and frankly been a part of what’s been driving the downfall of the recorded music industry, is that free consumption. Music is not free, fundamentally. Someone came in and produced that beat, someone came in and sang that song, someone wrote that song. Someone came in to clean the studio afterwards. There is an entire ecosystem around this, and we’ve somehow come to believe that it’s okay to pay hundreds for consumer electronics but to pay nothing for the music that helps sell it. It’s around the education process, with that there will higher royalties. And then another point that I want to touch on that’s really important philosophically, not just from a dollars and cents perspective, is the equity ownership. All artists who come in — and this is an open platform, an open invitation — will participate in the equity upside. And that is important, too, because of that participation in the process, by having a board seat, by actually being an owner in this. It’s a different type of involvement.
What did all those famous people sign on Monday?
J: Just a declaration that we’re going to work really hard to improve what’s going on in the pay system as we know it. You guys may have seen some of the stats like, Aloe Blacc had a song that was streamed 168 million times and he got paid $4,000. For us, it’s not us standing here saying we’re poor musicians. If you provide a service, you should be compensated for it. And not just artists — just think about the writers and the producers. Like an artist can go do a Pepsi deal or something — I shouldn’t have singled out Pepsi — but they can go get an endorsement deal somewhere and you know, go on tour and sustain themselves, it helps their lifestyle. But what about the writers who do that for a living? The producers? That’s it for them. What about Jahlil Beats, who produced Bobby Shmurda’s “Hot N**ga”? He went on to get a $2 million record deal or whatever, and Jahlil Beats just put the song out. So he wasn’t compensated for that song at all. There are dozens — more than dozens, there are thousands and thousands of those sorts of stories of someone who worked at their craft, worked really hard at the studio, they did their job and people loved it and consumed it and they just went home. I think we’ll lose a lot of great writers in the future because you have to do something else, because you can’t sustain a lifestyle, and I think that’s a shame. That someone has that talent and just isn’t being compensated because someone needed a business to profit off of their work. And we’ve seen that time and time again, we’ve seen it time and time again. Companies that pretend to care about music and really care about other things — whether it be hardware, whether it be advertising — and now they look at music as a loss leader. And we know music isn’t a loss leader, music is an important part of our lives.
Get the full transcript here.
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