Here’s The Only Way Jay Z’s “Tidal” Thing Might Work

Beyonce might have figured out the trick, but it is still pretty disingenuous.

From Beyonce's exclusive Tidal video.

From Beyonce’s exclusive Tidal video.

I’ll admit that I was kind of sick seeing all those photos from that Tidal press conference, the stage lined with “A-list pop stars” claiming they were being robbed of their artistry. Daniel D’Addario from Time accurately summarized the strange press event in his article “Jay Z’s Tidal Press Conference Showed He’s Out of Touch“:

“The launch event for the rapper’s streaming service was a big mess. After its splashy launch press conference yesterday, the primary argument for Tidal — the two-tiered music service recently purchased by Jay Z that costs either $9.99 or $19.99 per month — is that artists deserve more money for their work. It’s not necessarily a wrongheaded argument, but the manner in which Jay Z and his contemporaries have pressed the point is embarrassingly out-of-touch.”

There is something slightly disingenuous when Madonna, who’s net worth is estimated to be $800 million, took to her Instagam account to claim “Tidal is not about consumption and greed! Its about protecting an art-form that is beloved to all of us MUSIC! … ”

All that aside, there might be one way that Tidal might work, and the key word here is “might.” That’s if some of these A-list celebrities release exclusive music to the service, like Beyoncé did over the weekend. Of course, there’s something to be said that Jay Z’s wife dropped an exclusive track on Tidal, titled “Die With You,”  and teased the hell out of it on her Facebook page:

Die With YouDie With You. Watch the full video on

Posted by Beyoncé on Saturday, April 4, 2015

Posted by Beyoncé on Saturday, April 4, 2015

Hardcore Beyoncé and Jay Z fans might flock over to the service to shell out between $9.99 and $19.99 to watch this kind of exclusive content, but there would need to be an insane amount of this type of stuff to really keep the service afloat in the long run. Of course, let’s just admit it: Tidal is a Jay Z vanity project, and he’s clearly not short on cash, so it surely won’t flop anytime soon. But, it does raise a huge series of questions about just how much power celebrities have, and how tone deaf these folks are to their core audience.

What adds to the complication here is that the core argument of Tidal is one that I stand behind: Artists should get paid for their work. However, I’m not so sure that the artists who stood on the stage to sign the Tidal “declaration” are the best examples of those who have put blood, sweat, and tears into their craft. As a writer in the arts, I meet these types of people who live and die for their art, and they deserve to be paid richly, ten times over. Throwing another few million at Jay Z doesn’t sit well in my book.