Jay Z’s Tidal wants to make waves for all, but not everyone thinks it’s starting out on the right foot. Streaming service users and artists alike have spoken out against the Spotify rival, claiming that it’s too exclusive and expensive, and that it only benefits artists who are already wealthy a few times over. One Twitter user put it best when he posted the net worth of each of the artists on the stage at Tidal’s press conference at the beginning of the month.
— Edgar Rangel (@EdgarAllanFauxx) March 31, 2015
Tidal responded earlier this week to critics saying that the streaming service wasn’t “for all” artists when it added a new feature to its platform. The goal of the Tidal Rising function is to shed light on emerging talent from all genres of music on a weekly basis. It’s too early to tell how the success of the new add-on will play out in the long run, but it does seem like a step in the right direction, especially if the company truly wants to represent “all” artists.
While we wait to see whether or not Tidal Rising will have a positive impact on breaking new acts, take a look at which artists have already taken a stance against the streaming service.
When asked if she had heard about Jay Z’s “new streaming service,” Jennifer Lopez responded that she hadn’t. The interviewer tried to hold her attention, but J. Lo couldn’t have cared less.
Marina Diamandis of Marina & the Diamonds
A couple of days after Tidal’s launch in April, Marina Diamandis spoke to Styleite about her new album, Froot, as well as the streaming service, which she hadn’t downloaded because it felt very “corporate” to her. “I would buy into it if it wasn’t just Jay Z and all those guys. … They all have a lot of money,” she said. “The second thing that pisses me off is ’#TidalforAll.’ For all? Like, everyone has $20 per month to spend?”
If I wanted to be relevant or as rich as the #Tidal16, I wouldn't still be working in music.
— lily (@lilyallen) April 2, 2015
Two days after Tidal’s official press conference, Lily Allen took to Twitter to voice her opinion on the #Tidal16. “I love Jay Z so much, but Tidal is so expensive compared to other perfectly good streaming services,” she wrote. “He’s taken the biggest artists, made them exclusive to Tidal (am I right in thinking this?). People are going to swarm back to pirate sites in droves, sending traffic to torrent sites. Up and coming (not yet millionaires) artists are going to suffer as a result.”
She then suggested taking up a different kind of revolution. “We could just strike ’til the labels give us our fair share of streaming revenue, not take advances, not deliver music, for the future artist. A real revolution,” she wrote, calling out Usher, Madonna, and Daft Punk — three of the Tidal 16.
Marcus Mumford and Winston Marshall of Mumford & Sons
Mumford & Sons made fart sounds when the topic of Tidal came up in an interview with The Daily Beast. “We wouldn’t have joined it anyway, even if they asked,” Marcus Mumford said. “I think smaller bands should get paid more for it, too. Bigger bands have other ways of making money … And when they say it’s artist-owned, it’s owned by those rich, wealthy artists.”
Guitarist Winston Marshall shared similar sentiments. “We don’t want to be part of some Tidal ’streaming revolution’ nor do we want to be Taylor Swift and be anti-it,” he added. He also called the Tidal 16 the “new school plutocrats.”
Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie
“If I had been Jay Z, I would have brought out ten artists that were underground or independent and said, ’These are the people who are struggling to make a living in today’s music industry.’ … I think they totally blew it by bringing out a bunch of millionaires and billionaires and propping them up onstage and then having them all complain about not being paid,” he said. “There was a wonderful opportunity squandered to highlight what this service would mean for artists who are struggling and to make a plea to people’s hearts and pocketbooks to pay a little more for this service that was going to pay these artists a more reasonable streaming rate. And they didn’t do it.”
The Haxan Cloak
Bobby Krlic, who produces and sings under the name The Haxan Cloak, had a different bone to pick with Tidal. He claimed that the service “imitated” one of his songs, “Maura,” in the teaser video for its launch, according to Billboard. “This is so shameful. Thanks for not getting in touch and ripping me off, Tidal,” he tweeted. He deleted the tweet, later adding, “I’m not saying Tidal used my music; I’m saying they used an imitation of it. This happens to artists way too often.” He deleted that last tweet, too.
Steve Albini, who famously produced Nirvana’s In Utero and the Pixies’ Surfer Rosa, spoke to Vulture about Tidal. The man who penned 1993’s “The Problem With Music” called Tidal the “budget version of Pono,” Neil Young’s hi-def digital music player going for $399 on Pono’s website.