Jay Z Speaks to NYU Students About Tidal, the Music Business and Responding to Ferguson

Jay Z Speaks to NYU Students About Tidal, the Music Business and Responding to Ferguson

(Image: File)
Image: File

Earlier this week, Jay Z launched his new music streaming service, Tidal, alongside other celebrities who top the list of who’s who in music. With an ongoing list of questions about the new service and how it will compare to competitors such as Spotify, the rapper and entrepreneur took a break from his schedule to visit New York University to answer a few questions about his latest business venture.

In a Q&A discussion moderated by NYU professor Errol Kolosine, Jay Z and Tidal executive Vania Schlogel spoke to students from the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music about Tidal’s pay structure, how independent artist can benefit from the streaming service and how addressing issues within the music business does not take away from addressing larger social and political problems.

“I know everyone thinks ‘new company, main business competitor is Spotify’ but we’re really not here to compete with anyone, we’re actually here to improve the landscape,” the Brooklyn native told the audience.

Schlogel chimed in to elaborate more on Tidal’s pay out structure for artist and how it will differ from other streaming services.

“The royalty rates will be higher than other services. In addition to that, there won’t be that free tier that’s been depressing the recorded music industry, and frankly been a part of what’s been driving the downfall of the recorded music industry, is that free consumption. Music is not free, fundamentally,” said Schlogel. “Someone came in and produced that beat, someone came in and sang that song, someone wrote that song. Someone came in to clean the studio afterwards. There is an entire ecosystem around this, and we’ve somehow come to believe that it’s okay to pay hundreds for consumer electronics but to pay nothing for the music that helps sell it.”

[Related: Jay Z Makes $56 Million Bid to Buy Music Streaming Company]

Schlogel and Jay Z also spoke to the students about making Tidal accessible to independent artists, who often complain about the difficulty with getting their music on services like Spotify. While the two executives have only been owners of the streaming service for a short time, Schlogel said they “have a lot of initiatives that [they’re] working on, especially when it comes to indie talent, emerging talent, giving people visibility, giving people a forum to put their music up and giving them control of their distribution and their creative content, how they want to communicate with their fans.”

Offering two tiers of subscription options, one for $9.99 and the other for $19.99, Jay Z addressed the criticism of those who’ve written Tidal off as a pretentious, self-serving platform for the musical elite.

“You never hear Tim Cook’s net worth whenever he tries to sell you something. Steve Jobs, God bless, he had to have been pretty rich – nobody’s ever said, ‘Oh, the rich getting richer! I won’t buy an iPhone!’ Yeah, right. It’s not about being pretentious; again, this is a thing for all artists. You pay $9.99 for Spotify, so why not $9.99 for Tidal. We’re not asking for anything else, we’re just saying that we’ll spread that money to artists more fairly.”

While Jay Z has been praised by some for his many new business ventures, he’s also been called out by others who feel the megastar does not use his platform and voice enough to support social and political causes that greatly affect the minority community.

“This is not mutually exclusive – there are other problems, real problems going on in the world. We don’t miss the problems; we try to take care of them all,” said the mogul. “Imagine the President: he has to take care of ISIS, gay rights, equal pay for women, discrimination – all at the same time! So, you can’t say ‘You started this site when you should be out in St. Louis!’ It’s like, okay, J. Cole is out in St. Louis. I wasn’t in St. Louis, but I was in the governor’s office. Because, we can march all day long but if the laws don’t change, then we’ll be marching again and it’ll just be a different slogan on the shirt, and that’s a greater tragedy as well.”

Source: The Fader