Music artists a to z list
The music companies had their shot. So have the tech companies.
Now a group of top recording artists says it wants its chance to make money streaming music.
With the scripted sheen of one of his videos, rapper Jay Z led a parade of music royalty before reporters Monday to unveil a new music streaming service — Tidal — that it says will ensure artists get paid fairly for their work.
The service, starting at $10 monthly, aims to take customers from rivals like Spotify and Pandora in part by appealing to fans' sense of loyalty. They say artists will get a bigger slice of revenue from the streaming fees, and that the music itself will be streamed at higher fidelity.
To underscore the point, Jay Z (born Shawn Carter) was joined at a Manhattan news conference by a dozen or so music A-listers, including his wife, Beyonce, rapper Kanye West and singer Madonna.
The carefully orchestrated rollout of Tidal included a social media blitz, where celebrities such as West told his fans that "together, we can turn the tide and make music history."
But analysts said it's not clear that noble-sounding endorsements from popular musicians could change the bottom line for most acts making fractions of pennies for their streams.
"Jay Z has recognized that there's an opportunity to bring personality and quality to streaming music services, " said Mark Mulligan, a music industry analyst at MIDiA Research. "He's essentially setting himself up as the HBO of music streaming. But it takes more than a handful of music stars to change the underlying dynamics in the music streaming era."
Artists have been taking stands against the payment model offered by streaming services, but with Tidal, some are said to be getting an equity stake in the service that Carter bought for $56 million this month.
Tidal officials did not disclose financial details about how artists played on Tidal would be compensated.
"Our goal is simple: We want to create a better service and a better experience for both fans and artists, " singer Alicia Keys, one of the owners of Tidal, said at the news conference. "We believe it's in everyone's best interests to preserve the value of music."
Up for grabs are potentially billions of dollars in revenue that fans pay for music streaming every year. Artists have been critical that streaming services pay most of the royalties to record labels and music publishers, instead of the singers and musicians who created the music.