Tonight, Alicia Keys, Arcade Fire’s Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, Beyoncé, Daft Punk, Jack White, Jason Aldean, J. Cole, Jay Z, Kanye West, Deadmau5, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna and Usher all stood awkwardly on a stage, while Calvin Harris and Chris Martin worked out how to use Skype to appear via video link. Why? Good question, dear reader. They were there, as co-owners, to relaunch streaming service TIDAL. And that’s about the only part of the next twenty minutes that made any sense.
Alicia Keys talked about “exclusive experiences” - which seemed to be about ‘artists’ saving music, and remembering what shoe (singular shoe, that is) she was wearing last time she heard a song. Then, everyone (apart from those on video links) signed a ‘declaration’ - though quite what the declaration declared wasn’t stated. Maybe Jack White adopted Calvin Harris. It would make as much sense as anything else.
After standing awkwardly while Radiohead’s ‘The National Anthem’ played, Madonna mouthed “what happens now?” (no, really - what DOES happen now? - Ed), and everyone eventually left - nobody really any the wiser as to what exactly was being announced.
A trailer, which played on the live stream after the event, talked about “access to unique experiences”, high quality video and various other things which didn’t appear especially radical. No exclusive releases were announced.
Tidal’s big differences from Spotify are its lack of a free, ad-supported plan and a $19.95 price point. It claims to be “the first music streaming service that combines the best High Fidelity sound quality, High Definition music videos and expertly Curated Editorial”.
So, basically, TIDAL - lots of famous people are doing something and, for reasons which aren’t abundantly clear to anyone right now, that’s The Future of Music.