If you’re thinking of forking out for Tidal, it might be best to wait for a while.

Now that the freshly relaunched Tidal service is live, details of the first exclusive content to hit the service have started to filter through.

In a star-studded press conference last night that made Fox’s hit series Empire look like a fly-on-the-wall documentary, it was revealed that the streaming service Jay Z purchased earlier this month also has the backing of 16 artist stakeholders: Beyoncé, Rihanna, Kanye West, Jack White, Arcade Fire, Usher, Nicki Minaj, Coldplay, Alicia Keys, Calvin Harris, Daft Punk, deadmau5, Jason Aldean, J. Cole and Madonna. The size of the cash advances and equity portions given to the celebs involved isn’t clear, but at least one act was offered as much as $3 million and a 3% stake in the new service, according to sources cited by the Financial Times (paywall).

The press conference might have seen the artists signing a “declaration,” but it was fairly light on concrete details of what the service might offer beyond high fidelity audio, although we do know that Tidal is introducing a standard quality tier at $9.99 a month to complement its $19.99 a month high-definition audio offering. As Billboard points out, the first pieces of exclusive content have started to appear on the service, but at this point they’re not hugely impressive.

Our hopes for a Kanye album to launch the service have been dashed, leaving Rihanna’s new single ‘Bitch Better Have My Money’ as the service’s primary musical exclusive at this point. Currently there are only 33 videos available to watch, including footage from The White Stripes’ first ever TV performance and some behind the scenes footage from Alicia Keys’ Set the World on Fire Tour at Madison Square Garden, leaving Daft Punk’s 2006 film Electroma the most exciting piece of exclusive video content.

Beyond that, curated playlists make up the bulk of the service’s exclusive content, including Coldplay’s “Songs That Formed The Band” playlist and Beyoncé’s “festival favourites”. As noted by several outlets previously, Tidal is also the only place you can stream Taylor Swift’s catalogue – though her recent album 1989 is absent.

In a separate interview with Billboard yesterday, Jay Z opened up about his motives for getting into the streaming business. “We didn’t like the direction music was going and thought maybe we could get in and strike an honest blow and if, you know, the very least we did was make people wake up and try to improve the free vs. paid system, and promote fair trade, then it would be a win for us anyway,” he said. “People are not respecting the music, and [are] devaluing it and devaluing what it really means. People really feel like music is free, but will pay $6 for water. You can drink water free out of the tap, and it’s good water. But they’re OK paying for it. It’s just the mind-set right now. 

Jay Z also seems optimistic that Tidal might usher in a new era of artistic creativity. When asked what he hoped a high definition streaming service would inspire its incredibly wealthy owners to create, he said: “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?”

We’ll have more on this story as it develops, but in the meantime, you can rewatch what is arguably one of the most awkward press conferences of recent times below.



Share Tweet