TIDAL & the Future of Music

By now you’ve probably heard the news about TIDAL, a new music streaming service that Jay-Z unveiled yesterday. There are two subscription options, TIDAL Premium for $9.99/month and TIDAL HiFi for $19.99/month.

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The $19.99 rate stirred up some conversation overnight, due to the fact that competitors like Spotify only charge $9.99/month for premium. Many have argued that $19.99 is too expensive. To gauge the public opinion, the TODAY Show launched a survey via social media, and everyone weighed in.

Here are the results:

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Now before I delve into my opinion of these results, please allow me to share with you a brief anecdotal aside…

During my pre-teen/adolescent years before I had a job and a driver’s license, my dad would generously give me a $20 bill and drop my cousin and I off at the mall for a few hours. Being the young teeny boppers that we were, we frequented this place called a record store.

If you’re not sure what this is, here are some photos to illustrate:

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And with that $20, I’d buy ONE of my favorite artist’s albums. Usually priced at about $15, I’d get one CD with about 15 songs, and that was it. Sound familiar?

But sometime during the advent of the Internet, the world discovered that we could easily download music for absolutely FREE! How miraculous! Thank you Napster, Kazaa, Morpheous, and LimeWire – you saved my dad some money and a few trips to the mall.

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So, we downloaded, and downloaded some more. We made mixtape CDs. We disregarded entire albums and just downloaded the specific singles we wanted. We never planned on buying our own CDs again!

 

Uh oh… now look what we did:

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Looking back on it, we were all a bunch of thieves…

Fast forward to 2015 and the survey results above. 72% of us think that music should be entirely FREE. 

At what point did we become so entitled to think that we think we no longer have to pay for something we want?

Was it simply the transition from a tangible CD to an intangible track that made us think this was okay? One decade, we’re paying $1 per song, and now we’re complaining about paying $19.99 per month to get ENDLESS SONGS. HIGH QUALITY VIDEOS. EVERYTHING. FROM THE ARTISTS YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO SUPPORT AND LOVE!

I’m not saying I’ve paid for every song I’ve listened to, but musicians are taking a stand and we as fans need to respect that. We were flatout stealing. Taylor Swift pulled her music from Spotify in November 2014 simply because “valuable things should be paid for.”

And she’s right. An artists’ music is often their intellectual property, their words, their time, their creations, or there is a team of writers and producers behind them who do this for a living. If anything, music should be auctioned off because a lot of it is truly works of art. It should not just be given away.

Record stores have closed their doors because of the way we’re pirating music left and right. If we keep up this attitude of thinking that music should be free, who knows what musicians may do in the future to put this to an end.

Jay-Z and all the other artists who support TIDAL (Madonna, Beyonce, Nicki Minaj and others) could have advocated for change in an entirely different way. They could’ve pulled their music, refused to make more, cancelled tours, or done something far more rebellious.

Instead, they created an option that works for us. We should be thanking Jay-Z and all the streaming services out there for providing us the convenience and luxury of an endless library of songs and content. Yes, for just $19.99 per month.

And if this is still a cost you think may be too high, get yourself a boombox or Walkman and listen to FM radio, which indeed does play music for “free.” And if you’re not sure what a boombox or Walkman is, I’ll have to educate you on another post one day 😉

Until next time, my friends.

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