Since the purchase of TIDAL in early 2015 by Jay Z’s company, Project Panther Ltd, the many artists who co-own the streaming service have been trying desperately to promote it to very little avail. Thus, yesterday when Nicki Minaj released the music video for her new track featuring Beyoncé exclusively on TIDAL, it was only a matter of time before someone leaked it to the rest of the world.
The video, which features the two artists partying around Coachella, has been culminating hype since the song was leaked last December, as this is the second time Beyoncé has collaborated with Ms. Minaj. Though many people were distraught to find that the video was only available to TIDAL subscribers, with plenty of tweets saying they just unsubscribed the other week. The new music-streaming service has had quite a rocky beginning despite its long list of musical partners, so it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that the music video was leaked to YouTube by the end of the day. It also shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the video has already been taken down, now you’ll only be able to find the song itself and a few overdone reaction videos in its place.
TIDAL is taking its exclusivity seriously, though. With Beyoncé releasing her video for ‘Die with you’ solely on TIDAL last month, and Jay-Z and Rhianna following suite with their newest videos “Glory” and “American Oxygen”. There is even word that Jay-Z and Beyoncé will be releasing a joint album which will premier on TIDAL as well. It’s understandable why they’re trying to play up the exclusivity since the service has received criticisms from the get-go. Many people, including lead singer of Marina and the Diamonds, question the service’s claims of wanting to support the artist while boasting a roaster of the most commercial musicians of today. Considering TIDAL is also $20 a month, it is a bit odd that the artists you would be supporting are already millionaires. “For me, it would make more sense if the message was about supporting the artist, which I think is within their message, but they should actually include artists like include Beck, The Distillers or The Maccabees—include bands who’ve made great work, but maybe aren’t on their level in terms of commercialism.” says Marina. She added that the hashtag campaign during the service’s initial release – #TIDALforALL – also felt hypocritical towards their message of ‘freeing the music’ since very few people have an extra $20 a month to spend on streaming, especially when there are established cheaper alternatives like Spotify and Pandora. It feels more like the rapper is trying to alienate the audiences of the big artists he’s partnered with, rather than bringing them together. Some have even been saying that this kind of mindset is only going to breed more music piracy thanks to the rift its creating between streaming services. Instead of people having to choose between music services, with each missing some of their favourite artists due to the battle of exclusivity, they may end up just resorting to pirating which only ends up hurting every music-streaming service.
It would be quite ironic if TIDAL actually caused streaming services to lose support, since the whole reason Jay-Z backed it was to give more money to the artist, or as he put it: “restore the value to music by launching a service owned by artists.” However TIDAL is still relatively new, and although the fact that the mobile version fell out of the top 700 U.S. iPhone App chart only 2 weeks after launch makes it sound unappealing, it does seem to offer promising benefits alongside its exclusiveness like better streaming quality and the knowledge that the artist is being paid at a fairer wage. Maybe after it picks up some smaller artists and offers a free subscription it will become more popular, but until then it definitely emits a ‘holier-than-thou’ atmosphere and may end up being more detrimental than constructive in terms of supporting musicians. There’s nothing really to do but wait it out…or you know, subscribe if you’ve got an extra $240 a year to spend on streaming music.