By Gus Edlen O’Brien
CatlinSpeak (Portland, Oregon)
In the age of streaming, musicians face new problems and dilemmas regarding lost profit from sales. In the past, artists made money from the sale of CD, record, or concert tickets. However now online programs like Spotify or Pandora offer free streaming. The cost of listening to free music is ads, which, while sponsoring musicians, don’t offer artists very much profit. Online sites like Spotify pay $0.006 to $.0084 to musicians per listen. In March 2014, the most played song on Spotify was “Dark Horse” by Katy Perry. The song racked up 36.8 million plays, yet Perry only took home $230,000.
Because of the low payout, some artists have taken their songs off of streaming services. Taylor Swift commented to Rolling Stone on the subject, “Music is changing so quickly, and the landscape of the music industry itself is changing so quickly, that everything new, like Spotify, all feels to me a bit like a grand experiment,” Swift said. “And I’m not willing to contribute my life’s work to an experiment that I don’t feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists and creators of this music. And I just don’t agree with perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free.”
In retaliation to the free streaming model, a group of musicians led by Jay Z have begun their own streaming service. This week, Jay Z bought the streaming service Aspiro and renamed it Tidal.
Tidal will not operate under a “free music with ads” template, but rather monthly subscriptions of $19.95 for high quality streaming services and $9.95 for regular quality.
Musicians Win Butler and Regine Chassagne from the band Arcade Fire, Kanye West, Beyonce, Daft Punk, Jack White, Nicki Minaj, Madonna, Rihanna, Usher, Alicia Keys, J.Cole, and others have signed on as co-owners.
“The challenge is to get everyone to respect music again, to recognize its value,” said Jay Z. “Water is free. Music is $6 but no one wants to pay for music. You should drink free water from the tap — it’s a beautiful thing. And if you want to hear the most beautiful song, then support the artist,” said Jay Z in a recent interview with the New York Times.
Tidal released a promo video under the hashtag #TidalForAll.
Photo Credit: CatlinSpeak