Obama Ally Jay Z’s Music Sharing Service “Tidal” is a DISASTER

Obama Ally Jay Z’s Music Sharing Service “Tidal” is a DISASTER

Jay Z, Obama’s trendy ally and racist rap mogul, has developed a music sharing service that has fallen dramatically short of expectations. According to Bloomberg:

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Like many rappers, Jay Z writes songs that have a paranoid streak. He lashes out against conservative cable news anchors, overzealous cops, lazy music critics, and less talented lyricists, all of whom, he insists, are out to get him because he’s famous. On May 16, Jay Z uncorked one of these bilious anthems, Say Hello, from his 10th studio album, American Gangster, at an exclusive performance for people who’ve signed up for Tidal, his subscription-only streaming-music service. Stalking the stage at New York’s Terminal 5, Jay Z addressed critics of his new venture, who have savaged it as tone-deaf, unimpressive, and—perhaps most wounding for a celebrity who famously boasted “I’m a business, man”—a lousy investment.

In a black baseball cap cocked to the side, several large gold chains, and a dark tunic with white stripes that looked like something a fashion-conscious crossing guard might wear, the mogul complained about how he’d been mischaracterized by his detractors. “They say I’m a bad guy,” he rapped. “That’s the picture they paint. They say a lot about me. Let me tell you what I ain’t.”

Jay Z unveiled Tidal at a press conference in late March, flanked by 15 of the biggest acts in the music business, including his wife, Beyoncé, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Jack White, and Kanye West, all of whom were introduced as equity shareholders. Many seemed awkward and unprepared. Another owner, Alicia Keys, quoted Nietzsche and gushed about Tidal’s cultural significance: “We’re gathered … with one voice, in unity, in the hopes that today will be another one of those moments in time, a moment that will forever change the course of music history.” There was a lot of utopian rhetoric about restoring the value of music in the digital age. Less time was spent on new features, technology, or other reasons for listeners to try—and pay for—a Tidal subscription.

The backlash was immediate. Tidal’s detractors weren’t just the predictably vexatious music bloggers, who described the service as little more than a vehicle for musical plutocrats to line their pockets. The haters also included some of Jay Z’s peers. “They 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,” said Ben Gibbard, lead singer of the indie rock group Death Cab for Cutie. The habitually caustic Noel Gallagher of Oasis told Rolling Stone, “Do these people think they are the f—in’ Avengers? They are going to save the f—in’ [world]?” In late May Tidal hovered at No. 9 on the iTunes list of top-grossing music apps, trailing Slacker Radio.

At Terminal 5, Jay Z’s backup band halted in the middle of Say Hello to let him freestyle. He laid out the case for Tidal and skewered his competitors in verse: “So I’m the bad guy now, I hear, because I won’t go with the flow?” He said Apple executive Jimmy Iovine had offered him “a safety net,” presumably in the form of a payment for endorsing the company’s forthcoming streaming-music service, and that Google had “dangled around a crazy check.” (Apple and Google declined to comment.) Jay Z dissed “middlemen,” griping that YouTube paid him “a tenth” of what he deserved. “You know n—-s died for equal pay, right? You know when I work, I ain’t your slave, right?” Jay Z even drew parallels between his situation and the police killings of young black men such as Michael Brown and Freddie Gray.

Until now, Jay Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, has had an almost unbroken record of success. A hip-hop Horatio Alger character, he rose from the bleak poverty of Brooklyn’s Marcy public housing projects to become one of the world’s most successful musical artists. He’s sold 34 million albums in the U.S. alone, according to Nielsen Music. Billboard estimates he made $22 million last year from musical activities. Apart from his artistic talent, Jay Z also aspires to be one of the world’s great businessmen. “I affiliate with Billy Gates, that’s my peer,” he once rapped. And: “You looking at the black Warren Buffett.”

Jay Z is inarguably a success; however, given his obnoxious politics and racist leanings, perhaps we should all be forgiven for our schadenfreude as we watch his latest endeavor crash and burn.

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