Things change at Plattsburgh State. The sun is coming out of a long winter slumber, and cold beverages and lighter clothes replace the Plattsburgh winter armory — hot drinks and heavy coats. But there is one thing that never changes — PSUC students’ relationship to music. A dynamic that streaming service Tidal is trying to change.
Listening to unlimited music has been a blessing and a curse for most artists. Recording artist Taylor Swift decided not to share her latest album, 1989, on streaming service Spotify because she believed artists weren’t getting paid much. Whereas artists like Ed Sheeran have said they owe their career to streaming services.
However, music megastars seem to agree with Swift. In late March, under Jay Z’s lead, 16 international musicians such as Madonna, Kanye West and Beyoncé were at the launch event of the new streaming service Tidal, a product of their investment. Though there are many well-established streaming sites such as Spotify, YouTube and Pandora, Tidal claims to be different in that it offers musicians better rewards than competitors. The way the “Tidal 16” want to diminish competition and give power back to the artists is by exclusive, curated, high-definition content at a higher price.
“It’s about putting art back into the forefront. It’s about bringing humanity back to being an artist. Not technology-art. Human-art,” Madonna said in a video named #TidalForAll posted on Tidal’s YouTube account.
While Pandora and Spotify offer free streaming with ads, Tidal offers two subscription rates, $19.99 per month for TIDAL HiFi, a subscription that offers lossless high-fidelity sound quality, and $9.99 per month for the premium account. Spotify also offers an ad-free student plan for $4.99/month.
Marco DiGirolomo, double majoring in public relations and multimedia journalism, uses Youtube to listen to his music. The ad-heavy, free Spotify and Pandora accounts didn’t work for him, and he does not believe in Tidal’s formula. He doesn’t think better sound quality is enough to get students to pay $20.
“I think $20 versus free music with the quality change, very subtle change, I don’t think it would be a success for these artists to move over to that (Tidal),” DiGirolomo said.
Erica Massimo, a public relations major, doesn’t think Tidal will appeal to college music consumers.
She said college students like their music free, and paying for an app or a streaming service with a change in quality they wouldn’t notice doesn’t seem to be a winning concept for her.
Though the launch of Tidal hasn’t deterred investors such as Goldman Sachs from investing in Spotify, many artists are worried about the future of music streaming. British artist Lily Allen took to Twitter to express her standpoint on the Tidal launch.
“I LOVE Jay Z so much, but TIDAL is (so) expensive compared to other perfectly good streaming services. He’s taken the biggest artists, made them exclusive to TIDAL,” she tweeted, “…people are going to swarm back to pirate sites in droves sending traffic to torrent sites. Up-and-coming (not yet millionaires) artists are going to suffer as a result.”
When it comes to Allen’s fears, DiGirolomo believes them to be valid.
“It’s happened before with Limewire, and it will happen again. People still do it with the YouTube to MP3 (an app that converts YouTube videos to MP3s), DiGorlomo said, “It’s (music) already on YouTube regardless, people! It’s free out there for anybody.”
Though public relations major Sophie Deshaies, wouldn’t pay for Tidal and listens to music on iTunes radio, she does think the company is a good initiative.
“I think it’s a good idea because I think they’ll attract true fans of raw music. I think that people would be willing to pay for it. For some people, it’s worth it,” she said.
Other students who wouldn’t pay for the service are psychology major Erica Joseph, and Alexandria McCalla, who is a double major in broadcast journalism and public relations. They both find Jay Z’s effort with Tidal to be admirable, but they and other music consumers like them pay enough already.
“Granted, all these artists should make more money off of the stuff that they make, that they paid to get produced, but we already got it for free. So, trying to revert from that is not really going to end too positively,” McCalla said.
Email Winta Mebrahti at firstname.lastname@example.org