Spotify Unfazed By Tidal Theatrics: We're "Critical" for Artist Success
Not only is Spotify not removing Jay Z's music from its platform, the company believes the participation of artists in its streaming service — all artists — is crucial to their success.
Spotify isn't battening down the hatches after Jay Z unveiled his mighty new streaming music service Tidal on Monday, trotting out the likes of Kanye West and Jack White on a Tron-ified stage; the rap icon's star-studded announcement barely rattled his biggest competitor.
"We're going to keep working with every artist to ensure all your favorite music is on Spotify," a statement released by the streaming service to The Hollywood Reporter reads. "Recent releases by Drake, Kendrick, Madonna and others — including the Empire cast album, which hit number one because of streaming — show how critical it is for artists and labels to be on Spotify for their own success, and we're proud to be part of that."
Jay Z unveiled his competing platform at a live news conference in Herald Square along with 15 other famous stakeholders: Beyonce, Rihanna, Kanye West, Jack White, Arcade Fire, Usher, Nicki Minaj, Coldplay, Alicia Keys, Calvin Harris, Daft Punk (assuming it was really them under the masks), deadmau5 (same), Jason Aldean, J. Cole and Madonna.
While Spotify has asserted its dominance in the music streaming space, Jay Z's coalition is nothing to thumb one's nose at: with a combined Twitter following of 156 million, his unified celebrity front holds sway over the vast social media landscape, critical territory in the battle for America's attention. The group was easily able to get #TIDALforALL trending Monday. Meanwhile, Spotify's Twitter following numbers at a mere 1.23 million.
Spotify will continue to offer music by these artists for the foreseeable future, but Tidal executive Vania Schlogel framed the venture as the new streaming home for all these artists and more, boasting a library of more than 25 million tracks and 75,000 music videos at a monthly price tag of $10 ($20 for the lossless streaming option).
That these artists own a stake in Tidal only reinforces the precariousness of their relationship with Spotify. Meanwhile, the record labels, the gatekeepers in most of these deals, remain a big question mark in all the proceedings.
Keys issued Tidal's opening salvo at the event, calling it "the first-ever artist-owned global music entertainment platform." She added, "Our goal is simple: We want to create a better service and a better experience for both fans and artists."
Digging at Spotify's reputation for underpaying artists was a running theme at the event. Keys and Schlogel used language like "reestablish the value of music" and "promote the health and sustainability of our art."
Taylor Swift, whose music is available on Tidal, famously pulled all of her albums off Spotify last year, saying Spotify hadn't been adequately compensating her.
"I'm always up for trying something. And I tried [Spotify] and I didn't like the way it felt," Swift told Time last November. "I think there should be an inherent value placed on art. I didn't see that happening, perception-wise, when I put my music on Spotify. Everybody's complaining about how music sales are shrinking, but nobody's changing the way they're doing things. They keep running toward streaming, which is, for the most part, what has been shrinking the numbers of paid album sales."
Nevertheless, Spotify's confidence is well-earned. On Jan. 12, Spotify announced the service had just clocked 15 million paid subscribers, roughly four times the paid user base that Pandora had reported a few months prior. A Spotify spokesperson tells THR that over 20 percent of Spotify's active user base is comprised of paid subscribers. Pandora's percentage of paid users reportedly hovers around 4 percent.
The spokesperson also said Spotify has paid out $2 billion in revenue to music rights holders since its 2006 launch and boasts more than 30 million songs (5 million more than Tidal), adding roughly 20,000 new songs every day. According to the rep, Spotify is also available in 58 markets. Apart from its song count and smattering of exclusive content, it's unclear how Tidal's vital signs compare. Attempts to reach Tidal for comment were unsuccessful.
All this said, Jay Z isn't necessarily out for blood. "I just want to be an alternative," he told the The New York Times. "They don't have to lose for me to win."
But with the growing influence of social media, the tide might just be in his favor.