Music Streaming Site Tidal Could Be Losing Its Queen
Here’s an update for my music lovers on Jay Z’s new Spotify-esque streaming site Tidal. As expected, the $20 a month service isn’t exactly revolutionizing the music industry like Hov and his famous friends had hoped.
Despite boasts that they pay the highest percentage of royalties to music artists and songwriters within the music-streaming market, Tidal still continues to face waves of criticism from music experts and other artists. However, none of that compares to the potential embarrassment Tidal may face if Jay Z’s wife and co-owner Beyoncé is forced by Sony to remove her music.
In an extensive look at Tidal’s shortcomings by Bloomberg Businessweek, writer Devin Leonard calls the service “a complete disaster,” highlighting one huge problem threatening Tidal’s future. After a PR blunder ruined financial backing talks with Sprint, Tidal was short on the cash it needed to pay hefty royalty requests from Sony and Warner.
When [Jay Z] acquired Aspiro, the change of ownership meant he had to renegotiate its streaming contracts with the three major record companies: Universal, Warner, and Sony Music Entertainment. Universal distributes the records of some of Roc Nation’s artists, so Jay Z was able to quickly reach an agreement with that company. But music industry people who are familiar with the negotiations and forbidden from discussing them publicly say that Sony and Warner are asking Tidal for large advances in return for the right to feature their artists’ catalogs.
If Jay Z can’t come up with the cash for Sony, he faces the possibility that Tidal might lose albums from some of its co-owners, most painfully Beyoncé, a Sony artist.
Not Beyoncé! Of the 15 mega stars sharing the stage during Tidal’s illuminati-worthy launch, Beyoncé and her promised Tidal-exclusive content (i.e. “Feeling Myself” music video ft. Nicki Minaj) was one of the bigger selling points for people asking themselves “why pay.”
But would Sony really pull all of Beyoncé’s music catalogue from her own company? Well it wouldn’t be a first for the music industry giant, which recently removed artists including Adele, Hozier, and Miguel from SoundCloud due to a similar licensing impasse.
Another big issue threatening the fate of Tidal is its user base. Tidal advertises having 900,000 users, but analysts who spoke with Bloomberg suspect that many of them signed up for free trials and will cancel when they have to start paying.
All in all it’s not a good look for Jay Z if he loses his wife’s music or if he loses the majority of his users after their free trials expire. Despite having shown an affinity for business in other pursuits including a highly successful clothing line and record label, Jay Z might be drowning with Tidal.