My overriding thought was… “really?” (followed closely by… “whaa?”).
The whole launch seemed more than a bit out of touch. If you haven't seen it already, you can watch the launch ceremony over on the TIDAL website, where they line up a bunch of rich and successful artists and then sign some sort of 'declaration of independence'. It's all a bit bizarro.
The thing that really stands out is how TIDAL pitches their big differentiating factor as being 'owned by artists'. Which sort of implies that it is better for artists. But I don't think it was lost on anyone that the artists that 'own' TIDAL are all extremely successful. Nowhere is it mentioned how the payout model will be different or more fair. I mean, I'm sure it got a whole lot more fairer for Kanye, Madonna, Beyonce and all the other big names that signed that big sheet of paper, but was anyone really that concerned about how big the slice of pie was that all those artists were being served before TIDAL?
It would seem that if you were going to present yourself as being a 'game changer' for artists, you would have addressed the biggest issue with streaming… and call me crazy, but the biggest issue with streaming is the payout model and not the fidelity.
What would have been actually game changing is if they would have announced that a customer's monthly subscription gets divvied out to ONLY the artists they listen to each month (related: here's a great article on this topic).
Doing that —or something similar— would have actually created the 'game changer for artists' buzz they attempted to manufacture yesterday. And since there is no free tier and the platform is owned by a conglomerate of well-to-do musicians, if there ever was a streaming platform that could implement such a model, you'd of thought it could be Tidal. Instead they just tried to wow everybody with the 'look how many famous people are in the same room' card. And it all felt a bit false.
Since there was no mention of what the payout model would be, you've got to assume that it is probably going to very similar to the 'penny dust per stream / customer money divvied out to artists they didn't even listen to' model that is already in effect on all the other streaming services, with the only difference being that the people on top making money of other people's music is now a bunch of already-doing-pretty-damn-good-for-themselves artists instead of some non-music making executives. Really?
(if you need me, I'll be continuing to buy music directly from artists / labels over on Bandcamp)