New music streaming site benefits the rich, but not the rest

Editorial board

As college students, we are often faced with the challenge of liking music, but not being able to purchase it because of excessive costs. This often leads to music piracy, and artists and companies have been trying to reduce piracy in order to help get musicians paid for their work.

Jay Z has created a streaming website called Tidal that is supposed to help “starving artists” combat piracy, and earn the money they deserve. But is it really giving money to the right people?

Let’s take into account that Jay Z and Beyonce, the two most prominent artists on this website, made over $100 million on their “On the Run” tour last year. The tour only lasted from June 25 to September 13.

Marcus Mumford said in an interview with the Daily Beast that the only artists featured on this website are bands who are well known or are known enough to play large music festivals. For example, Toro y Moi and St. Vincent, two of the lesser known artists on Tidal, are on almost every festival’s lineup this year, including Coachella, Lollapalooza and even the local Outside Lands music festival in August.

So is Tidal really giving money to the artists who need it, or is it further helping the rich artists who often don’t even write their own music?

While they are no small band, Mumford & Sons said in that interview this website is only giving money to the richest artists in the industry. Mumford, the lead singer of the band, said, “I think smaller bands should get paid more for it, too. Bigger bands have other ways of making money, so I don’t think you can complain.”

Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie had similar notions about Tidal. In an interview with indie music news source Pitchfork, Gibbard said, “I think that 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.”

The ultimate goal of Tidal is to have the artists control the distribution of their own music instead of the music industry moguls.

Besides Beyonce and Jay Z, Alicia Keys, Calvin Harris, Daft Punk, Jack White and other top artists own the actual company.

But with the threat of losing net neutrality only a few weeks behind us, is this another way to get internet users to pay more for their services?

A membership to Tidal is $20 per month, but unlike Pandora, the paid subscription isn’t exactly optional. When you visit the website, you will see there is music, but like iTunes you can only hear a 30-second excerpt from it. Everything you click on on the web page brings up a pop-up window asking you to sign up for a free trial or to subscribe.

While this conceptually sounds like a good idea for Jay Z (there is even a pretty convincing ad on the website here), does he really think teens and college students will be willing to pay for the “premium” content on the website?

Lily Allen, in an interview with Business Insider, said the website will only make people want to pirate more music, which, speaking as college students, could be true.

If you already don’t pay for your music, why would you start now? The artists involved have a lot of hope in the fact that people appreciate the “art” they are making and want to compensate them for it.

If this website actually works, will that mean ticket prices will go down for concerts? The fact is, the lowest ticket price for many of these artists is usually around $60 to $70, which makes it hard for younger fans to afford to go.

Hopefully Tidal will benefit the fans and lesser known artists as much as the very wealthy artists, but judging from what we see, that seems unlikely.