Jay Z and Tidal exec Vania Schlogel did a Q&A with students at The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music & pretty much covered everything you want to know..
Full Transcript from Fader.com states:
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, as well as through a number of other things which I’m sure you guys are gonna ask about, so, I don’t want to go too into it on the first question.
Will Tidal offer a student discount for subscriptions like Spotify does in the near future?
JAY Z: Oh. Okay, well I’m going to let Vania answer that one. SCHLOGEL: Yes. When we look at the data, the data says that students don’t really care about paying for streaming. I actually don’t believe that, necessarily — I think that this demographic here, sitting in the room, cares very deeply about music. I think in fact that a lot of you have a deeper emotional connection with music than any data says. And so the short answer for that is, absolutely yes, because we want you all to be Team Tidal and to be a part of this.
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. You guys may have seen some of the stats like, Aloe Blacc had a song that was streamed 168 million times and he got paid $4,000. 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. There are dozens — more than dozens, there are thousands and thousands of those sorts of stories of someone who worked at their craft, worked really hard at the studio, they did their job and people loved it and consumed it and they just went home. 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.
How does Tidal tend to shift its current perception as a pretentious, self-serving platform for the musical elite, to one referencing the brand essence of being all and for all artists?
JAY Z: I guess by having a conversation, and telling people what it is. That opinion came before we even explained what it was — “This thing is horrible! … What is it?” You know? 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. We’re not saying anything other than that, and we’re saying that we’re in a position to bring light to this issue. We’re using our power that way. And of course there are greater causes, of course. 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. 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. Everyone has to play their part, everyone has to do different things, and it all has to happen at the same time.
Some artists have equity stakes in the company — is it possible for independent artists to get equity in the company? How is that determined?
SCHLOGEL: Absolutely. We’ve set up a stock appreciation rights program already — it’s nascent, but it’s in place. And as we go along, we’re working with the artist founders and figuring out how exactly to grow and evolve it going forward, and figuring out how we will set up this program and send out that messaging, especially to independent artists.