Tidal Is Too Expensive, But Is It Really Such A Bad Concept?
Lately, it seems pretty trendy to hate on Tidal. From Death Cab For Cutie to Arcade Fire, every band that you listened to middle school is trashing the HD streaming service for everything from its poor management to the group of millionaires who launched it. And while some of their gripes are well-founded, shouldn’t we be happy about the message? Respecting artists should always be the goal in our music streaming.
According to Spotify, an artist gets between $0.006 and $0.0084 per stream on their service — but others have suggested that the actual number is much lower after the label takes a cut. Even going by Spotify’s probably-inflated figures, to make American minimum wage an artist would need to have over 200,000 streams a month.
And while we’re not saying Taylor Swift was right in pulling all of her music from Spotify, it’s easy to understand why she did it. She’s not making any money from streaming services. Swift, Jay Z, and Beyonce aren’t really the type of artists who need to make money from streaming services. But as artists with a big following and major influence, we should be happy that they’re speaking up about how streaming services hurt artists — even if Tidal isn’t exactly the answer.
Sure, some artists, like Miley Cyrus, release their music for free, but is that something we should basically force musicians to do? Should free music be the norm?
What we need to do as consumers of music is change how we conceive of music streaming. We live in a capitalist society and music — whether we like it or not — is a commodity; it’s time that we started treating it like one. Am I saying that every streaming service should be like Tidal and charge almost $20 a month to listen? Of course not. But the assumption that music consumers deserve all of it for free seems archaic.
Other music streaming services — like Bandcamp — allow artists to decide, at least in part, how much they get for their music. Bandcamp has even unveiled a new program where you can subscribe to specific artists, paying a monthly or annual fee in order to get all their music. Along with this new program, they’ve always had an ability to put music up for free, to restrict what casual browsers can listen to, and a “pay what you like” option. Bandcamp is a streaming service with a model that’s actually sustainable, one that puts the artist in control.
This Renaissance-like patronage program might be a step into the past, but maybe it’s really the future of music streaming — or at least a little better than what we’ve been doing lately.
Image via Tidal