Apr 2, 2015

Jayz Talks Tidal, Spotify, Ferguson & More


On Monday Jay-z and a bunch of his famous friends held a press conference for his new streaming service Tidal. Many praised Jay for his new venture while some were still questioning what Tidal is exactly? While attending a Q&A session at NYU Wednesday, the rap mogul dished on his new company, the rich get richer mindsets from naysayers and Ferguson.


How does TIDAL tend to shift its current perception as a pretentious, self-serving platform for the musical elite, to one referencing the brand essence of being all and for all artists?


I guess by having a conversation, and telling people what it is. That opinion came before we even explained what it was — "This thing is horrible! … What is it?" You know? You never hear Tim Cook's net worth whenever he tries to sell you something. Steve Jobs, God bless, he had to have been pretty rich — nobody's ever said, "Oh, the rich getting richer! I won't buy an iPhone!" Yeah, right. It's not about being pretentious; again, this is a thing for all artists. You pay $9.99 for Spotify, so why not $9.99 for TIDAL. We're not asking for anything else, we're just saying that we'll spread that money to artists more fairly. We're not saying anything other than that, and we're saying that we're in a position to bring light to this issue. We're using our power that way. And of course there are greater causes, of course. This is not mutually exclusive — there are other problems, real problems going on in the world. We don't miss the problems; we try to take care of them all. Imagine the President: he has to take care of ISIS, gay rights, equal pay for women, discrimination — all at the same time! So, you can't say "You started this site when you should be out in St. Louis!" It's like, okay, J. Cole is out in St. Louis. I wasn't in St. Louis, but I was in the governor's office. Because, we can march all day long but if the laws don't change, then we'll be marching again and it'll just be a different slogan on the shirt, and that's a greater tragedy as well. Everyone has to play their part, everyone has to do different things, and it all has to happen at the same time.


How is TIDAL's payout structure for artists different from competitors such as Spotify?

I know everyone thinks "new company, main business competitor is Spotify" but we're really not here to compete with anyone, we're actually here to improve the landscape. If just the presence of TIDAL causes other companies to have better pay structure, or to pay more attention to it moving forward, then we've been successful in one way. So we don't really view them as competitors. As the tide rises, all the boats rise.


What exactly were the contents of the document that was signed during the press conference?
 
Just a declaration that we're going to work really hard to improve what's going on in the pay system as we know it. You guys may have seen some of the stats like, Aloe Blacc had a song that was streamed 168 million times and he got paid $4,000. For us, it's not us standing here saying we're poor musicians. If you provide a service, you should be compensated for it. And not just artists — just think about the writers and the producers. Like an artist can go do a Pepsi deal or something — I shouldn't have singled out Pepsi — but they can go get an endorsement deal somewhere and you know, go on tour and sustain themselves, it helps their lifestyle. But what about the writers who do that for a living? The producers? That's it for them. What about Jahlil Beats, who produced Bobby Shmurda's "Hot N**ga"? He went on to get a $2 million record deal or whatever, and Jahlil Beats just put the song out. So he wasn't compensated for that song at all. There are dozens — more than dozens, there are thousands and thousands of those sorts of stories of someone who worked at their craft, worked really hard at the studio, they did their job and people loved it and consumed it and they just went home. I think we'll lose a lot of great writers in the future because you have to do something else, because you can't sustain a lifestyle, and I think that's a shame. That someone has that talent and just isn't being compensated because someone needed a business to profit off of their work. And we've seen that time and time again, we've seen it time and time again. Companies that pretend to care about music and really care about other things — whether it be hardware, whether it be advertising — and now they look at music as a loss leader. And we know music isn't a loss leader, music is an important part of our lives.

Check out the full transcript of the Q&A on Fader.