At about halftime of a recent Sporting Event That Shall Not Be Named, a commercial caught my eye, largely because I saw Jay-Z talking, and when Hova speaks, I listen.
Wow, like, everybody was in this commercial: Jay, BeyoncÃ©, Kanye, Jack White, Nicki Minaj, Madonna, Usher, Tweedle-Daft and Tweedle-Punk, Chris Martin, and a bunch of dudes sporting various approaches to facial hair grooming. That’s a lot of star power.
I’d only heard about Tidal, Jay-Z’s new music streaming service, like a week before I saw this commercial. I knew it aimed to set itself apart in two ways: by offering higher quality sound than similar services like Spotify and by charging twice as much as its competition. But boy was I embarrassed when I saw this commercial. Here I thought Jay was just trying to get his foot in the door of the music streaming industry, but my man is trying to change the world.
Let’s break it down, shall we?
Holy crap. They just started right off with Kanye! According to him, a music streaming service is “like the beginning of the new world.” That this is only like the fourth most insane thing someone says during this ad is a testament to how bizarrely out of touch with reality every one who attended this
callous publicity stunt party actually is.
Hova and the dance robot aliens living inside those helmets look like they’re having fun together, don’t they? I’m sure they’re very close friends and their conversation wasn’t staged in any way. The good news is that it took Jay three seconds to out-ridiculous Kanye. He actually uses the words “change the course of history forever today” to describe listening to slightly better digital music files for 20 bucks a month. Yep, right up there with the Norman Invasion, World War II, and landing on the moon.
Mr. Coldplay himself looks like “conscious uncoupling” is suiting him just fine. He’s wearing black now, he’s got an earring, and he’s listening very intensely as people even more famous than him talk about getting together to take a stand (BeyoncÃ©) and how much they love music (Jay-Z). This is Tidal’s key selling point, as far as I can tell: it’s for snobs (some of my best friends are snobs, so no judgment). If you enjoy rolling your eyes at people whose iPods are filled with 128-bit mp3s and lecturing people at parties about the “noise wars,” then Tidal is probably for you.
You too, Alicia Keys and Arcade Fire folks. We’ll Skype you in though, cool?
Hahahahahahahahahaha! No, seriously, a room with Madonna, Kanye West, Jay-Z, and Jack White is “egoless.” If Tidal doesn’t work out for Mr. and Mrs. Z, at least Bey’s got a chance as a stand up comedian. I would close with this joke if I were her.
We hit the snob grind again hard with Madonna rambling about art, artists, artistry, artisan cheeses, humanity, and then art again. If you believe that Tidal is about much more than money, I don’t think you can be helped. Yes, Spotify does not pay artists well at all, but unless Tidal’s model does much to change that for artists whose tours gross less than 100 million dollars (I don’t think anyone featured in this commercial can say that), then you can save your speeches about returning art to the artists, Madge.
Forever is a long time, but that’s what Jay-Z is telling this person who is definitely not just a mannequin with a wig put into the shot. Tidal is going make a splash, no doubt. But can you sustain a $20 price point (for the high quality version) simply by hoping that fans of artists value supporting musicians more than they value their own money. Somehow, I doubt it.