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When Jay Z’s music streaming service Tidal launched in March, it promised to bring great things for music fans and artists alike. Fans willing to pay for the service (more expensive than competitors like Spotify and Pandora) would get access to high-quality tracks, and artists, especially independent ones, would make more money. The service had street cred from its backing by Jay Z, and was also endorsed by Jay’s gaggle of multi-millionaire pals slash Billboard chart toppers. Fail number one. If it promised to save the indie songmakers of the now, why are Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj its spokespeople? There’s nothing altnernative about them.
The saga of Tidal’s failure continues with a new piece from Bloomberg this week, reporting that the service might not be able to find the cash to pays its requested royalties. Both Sony and Warner Music have requested advances in exchange for the rights to stream their artists’ catalogues. Tidal claims it has 900,000 users, but analysts “suspect that many have signed up for trials and will cancel when they have to start paying.” If Tidal doesn’t pay up, it could lose its library of Beyoncé, who is signed to Sony.
Spotify survives without Taylor Swift, surely Tidal can survive without Beyoncé, right? Wrong. She carries the service, and it has a lot to do with the fact that she’s married to its owner. Let this be a lesson that nothing good comes from mixing business and family.