To continue on his TIDAL press run, HOV appeared at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music to talk about the details of his new streaming music service. The Fader was there to cover and got some great quotes about the Spotify comparison and why TIDAL could take the place of record labels all together.
How will Tidal change the industry with regards to artists’ bottom line? Spotify has received much criticism for the portion of revenue that the artists receive through their music being streamed there. Is Tidal a direct response to this criticism?
JAY Z: Not a direct response. You don’t want to single anyone out, per se — but currently we pay the highest royalty percentage. And there is no free tier service. If you have five people paying for music, and ten people consuming it, then the artist starts at -5. We start at 1. There is no free tier and we’ll pay the highest royalty percentage. That’s how we’ll change the industry, as well as through a number of other things which I’m sure you guys are gonna ask about, so, I don’t want to go too into it on the first question.
Tidal is a streaming service created by artists. Is it necessarily for artists? Does this streaming service exclude the major labels in any way?
JAY Z: Well, we can’t exclude the major labels because they have contracts with the artists. But if you don’t have a contract as an independent artist, they you can do whatever you want and we would love to work with you.
Does that mean that artists that are currently on Tidal, when their contracts expire, could have the option of going in lieu of a record company, and work with something like Tidal?
JAY Z: I’m on Tidal. I don’t have a record deal. So… yes.
Does that make you a label, then, in a way, as well?
JAY Z: Don’t disrespect us, man. We have bigger ambitions than that.
How do you think Tidal will influence or elevate hip-hop culture?
JAY Z: I believe that once Tidal is known — we’re not known, because it’s been three days — once we’re known as a destination for really good music, really good sound, and you expect a certain quality from us, people won’t come just to hear. It becomes a destination — “Let me check this out” — just so an artist won’t necessarily have to have the club single, the girl single, to be catchy to be heard. We built a place, a home for creativity where people can have songs that are 18 minutes long with no hook and we’ll hear songs like “Like A Rolling Stone” again, where there’s no clear, definable hook but it’s still considered one of the greatest songs of all time. Once we’ve established that, I think art and music can flourish on their own terms. You don’t have to record into this vacuum —- and again, this is not about against-ness, this about doing something great — and try to get onto a particular station that has a particular sound. I think that that’s kinda divisive to music. That’s not how music is created or consumed — people listen to music because of some sort of truth, some sort of emotion, some sort of great melody. And I think that separation happened at radio mainly because of advertising. It had nothing to do with music. “I have the 18-24 year olds here. You want to play this song at this time, 100 times a week, because everyone’s tuned in.” That has nothing to do with music and everything to do with advertising and something else. I think the idea of putting the music in front once again is what TIDAL is about. Putting the artists in front. The artists own the company — you’re cool with that right? This is a really bad example but: if Michael Jordan said to me, “Hey man! I got some new, great sneakers that nobody’s ever seen. You wanna buy ’em from me? Foot Locker’s out of business.” I’m gonna go straight to Michael Jordan’s house and buy the sneakers from him. It’s not a problem — that’s what I want to do. Buy your music from artists and have a better relationship. We’re going to offer more, we’re going to talk to you, we’re going to find out what you like and introduce you to new music. Putting the artists back in front, instead of “You get the music if you buy a device, you get the music if you download an app.” The devaluing of music is critical — we all love music.
Read the rest of the transcript, here.