Jay Z is still not getting the other 99%
Yesterday, Jay Z announced the launch of his highly anticipated new streaming service, Tidal. Despite the support of artists like Madonna and Daft Punk, it still managed to ignore the crux of an issue the music industry has been facing for the last 15 years. Tidal is not for every artist. Spotify is not for every artist. In fact, none of the mainstream streaming platforms are for every artist.
The maths is simple. 99% of the revenue in the music industry is still taken by 1% of the artists. Artists precisely like Jay-Z, Kanye West or Rihanna. On streaming platforms there are millions of new artists without any plays or revenue and yesterday’s Tidal launch didn’t bring anything new to the table.
Yes it uses video on the homepage, yes it has some exclusives and a slick design, but it doesn’t offer itself as a viable home for the other 99% — the emerging artists.
Big industry names like Jay-Z need to think more creatively if they really want to revitalise music industry. The next wave of groundbreaking artists are out there, probably hidden away in a small room with a simple synthesiser and an acoustic guitar feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of breaking into a space as crowded as the world of digital music.
The music industry needs platforms that are willing to incite change. Platforms such as Bandcamp that offer a direct and simple way to support artists. Or new startups such as Tradiio which uses a reward-system that incentivises users to discover new artists and provides real opportunities like playing large festivals or even signing label deals.
As Kanye West tweeted, “together, we can turn the tide and make music history”. But it’s a long road. And we should start by giving the other 99% the opportunities they deserve.