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A&E >  Entertainment

Streaming service Tidal gains critics

Artists anticipate listener backlash

Mumford & Sons band member Marcus Mumford: “We just want to play music, and I don’t want to align myself with Spotify, Beats, Tidal or whatever.”
Mumford & Sons band member Marcus Mumford: “We just want to play music, and I don’t want to align myself with Spotify, Beats, Tidal or whatever.”
August Brown Los Angeles Times

For an allegedly artist-friendly take on streaming services, a lot of artists sure seem to hate Tidal.

Over the last few days, several high-profile acts have been outspoken about their problems with Tidal’s optics and messaging, going so far as to hope for its downfall.

One of the first was British pop singer Lily Allen, who predicted on Twitter that under Tidal’s relatively pricey paid subscription tiers and focus on walled-off original material, “(Jay Z)’s taken the biggest artists & made them exclusive to TIDAL (am i right in thinking this?), 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.

“My concern is that Tidal may set emerging artists back.”

Next came neo-folk group Mumford & Sons. After winning an album of the year Grammy and becoming one of the world’s most popular live acts, the group would seem to be in the Tidal declaration-signing demographic. Instead, the band’s Winston Marshall recently told the Daily Beast that the service is a product of “new-school plutocrats” (he actually used saltier language).

Singer Marcus Mumford added that even though they weren’t asked to join the first round of Tidal endorsements, they “wouldn’t have joined it anyway, even if they had asked. We don’t want to be tribal. … We just want to play music, and I don’t want to align myself with Spotify, Beats, Tidal or whatever. We want people to listen to our music in their most comfortable way, and if they’re not up for paying for it, I don’t really care.

“Diversify as a band. It doesn’t mean selling your songs to adverts. We look at our albums as stand-alone pieces of art, and also as adverts for our live shows.”

Indie rock band Death Cab for Cutie had similar sentiments about the service. In a different conversation with the Daily Beast, Ben Gibbard said that Tidal “totally blew it by bringing out a bunch of millionaires and billionaires and propping them up onstage and then having them all complain about not being paid.”

Gibbard’s far from a struggling rocker, but he did emphasize that the service could have added more credibility by focusing less on an Arthurian round table of celebrities and more on artists who could actually benefit from a justly paid streaming service.

“There was a wonderful opportunity squandered to highlight what this service would mean for artists who are struggling and to make a plea to people’s hearts and pocketbooks to pay a little more for this service that was going to pay these artists a more reasonable streaming rate,” he said. “And they didn’t do it. That’s why this thing is going to fail miserably.”

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