Jay Z Says Tidal Will Pay Highest Royalty Percentage to Artists
The launch of Jay Z's new streaming service, Tidal, has been the talk of the music industry this week. To answer the litany of questions about his latest venture, Hov has been making the press rounds and yesterday (Wed., April 1) he and Tidal exec Vania Shlogel sat for a Q+A with students at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. Moderated by NYU professor Errol Kolosine, the rapper and the businesswoman answered questions regarding Tidal's revenue sharing plan, competing with Spotify and much more. Below are a few clips from the session and the full transcript can be read via FADER.
How will Tidal change the industry with regards to artists' bottom line? Spotify has received much criticism for the portion of revenue that the artists receive through their music being streamed there. Is Tidal a direct response to this criticism?
JAY Z: Not a direct response. You don't want to single anyone out, per se — but currently we pay the highest royalty percentage. And there is no free tier service. If you have five people paying for music, and ten people consuming it, then the artist starts at -5. We start at 1. There is no free tier and we'll pay the highest royalty percentage. That's how we'll change the industry...
How is Tidal's payout structure for artists different from competitors such as Spotify?
JAY Z: 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. If just the presence of Tidal causes other companies to have better pay structure, or to pay more attention to it moving forward, then we've been successful in one way. So we don't really view them as competitors. As the tide rises, all the boats rise.
What exactly were the contents of the document that was signed during the press conference?
JAY Z: Just a declaration that we're going to work really hard to improve what's going on in the pay system as we know it...For us, it's not us standing here saying we're poor musicians. If you provide a service, you should be compensated for it. And not just artists — just think about the writers and the producers. Like an artist can go do a Pepsi deal or something — I shouldn't have singled out Pepsi — but they can go get an endorsement deal somewhere and you know, go on tour and sustain themselves, it helps their lifestyle. But what about the writers who do that for a living? The producers? That's it for them. What about Jahlil Beats, who produced Bobby Shmurda's "Hot N**ga"? He went on to get a $2 million record deal or whatever, and Jahlil Beats just put the song out. So he wasn't compensated for that song at all...I think we'll lose a lot of great writers in the future because you have to do something else, because you can't sustain a lifestyle, and I think that's a shame. That someone has that talent and just isn't being compensated because someone needed a business to profit off of their work. And we've seen that time and time again, we've seen it time and time again. Companies that pretend to care about music and really care about other things — whether it be hardware, whether it be advertising — and now they look at music as a loss leader. And we know music isn't a loss leader, music is an important part of our lives.
Tidal is a streaming service created by artists. Is it necessarily for artists? Does this streaming service exclude the major labels in any way?
JAY Z: Well, we can't exclude the major labels because they have contracts with the artists. But if you don't have a contract as an independent artist, they you can do whatever you want and we would love to work with you.
Does that mean that artists that are currently on Tidal, when their contracts expire, could have the option of going in lieu of a record company, and work with something like Tidal?
JAY Z: I'm on Tidal. I don't have a record deal. So… yes.