Tidal’s launch and Jessie J’s biscuits. A post about taking the piss.
Posted by Popjustice on
Mar 31 2015 at about 10:18
We love to take the piss don’t we.
It’s 2015 and taking the piss is what we do.
One day we take the piss out of this.
The next day we take the piss out of this.
Then the next day we take the piss out of this.
It’s all very funny.
Yes but is it funny?
Once we’ve finished LOLing to ourselves about Jessie J’s hat, the question is this: do we really think Jessie J enjoys dressing up as a cheese cracker and hitting send on a toe-curling tweet to promote Tuc biscuits? Did Clean Bandit really wake up one morning and think to themselves, “we’re in the mood for degrading ourselves”?
Chances are, they’re about as keen on endorsement deals as most media organisations are on desperately hoping that someone will book some advertising. The person writing Coronation Street doesn’t want to have to factor in product placement. In 1855 the Daily Telegraph was not founded in the hope that one day the revenue from OutBrain might just about cover the cost of an intern.
With the exception of acts for whom product placement can be used as a status symbol, or the handful of media entities who can pick and choose perfect commercial partners, nobody wants to be doing any of that shit.
Without wishing to baffle you with complicated terminology, people are doing that shit because everything is fucked.
What is Tidal?
Tidal is, supposedly, an effort to un-fuck the music business. It’s a streaming service like most other streaming services, but the idea is that artists will make more money from streams on Tidal than they might do on other streaming services.
At the moment Tidal’s big competition is Spotify, but its launch comes ahead of iTunes’ all-but-confirmed Beats offering.
One of Jay Z’s quotes in his Billboard interview was quite interesting. “People really feel like music is free,” he told the magazine, “but will pay $6 for water.” The thing is, Jay Z might hang out with people who pay $6 for water, but most people wouldn’t pay $6 for water. This said, it’s a bit of a red herring to suggest that a line of multi-millionaires isn’t allowed to complain about being exploited.
But it’s also true that everybody on that stage benefitted from a the old fashioned music industry way of doing things: record labels would invest in ten acts. One would become successful, and would fund the next ten acts. And so on. Some of the artists on that stage benefitted from that system more than others, but for every one person on that stage there are ten who were given just as much of a shot at success, but failed.
One of Tidal’s aims is to give more money to songwriters and producers, which is great because they’re the ones who can’t do a deal with Tuc biscuits. But you do wonder where last night’s a-listers think the a-listers of 2025 will come from if record labels somehow fall out of the equation, because acts who break without big label support are still few and far between.
It’s very nice for Madonna owns some of Tidal, but where’s the next Madonna coming from?
So should we all be taking the piss out of Tidal or not?
Last night’s livestreamed event was completely ridiculous. However you present it, it’s also ridiculous to suggest that owning a stake in a tech company is an expression of artistry.
And there are three other points to consider.
1. Once the social media campaigns are out of the way, nobody in the real world really gives two shits who owns a company. 99% of consumers will simply go for the streaming service that offers them the best deal based on what they want to do, just as everybody on stage last night signed record deals that suited them best based on what they wanted to do. When they signed those deals with major labels, or Live Nation, or whoever else, they weren’t thinking about how this would benefit the artistic community. They were thinking about how it would get them what they wanted. This is how normal people approach streaming services.
2. Jay Z’s businessman credentials are part of his whole schtick. You could argue that investing in tech because traditional music revenues have gone tits up isn’t fixing the music industry, it’s fixing your own pension. This isn’t exactly Paloma Faith taking Owen Jones out on the road.
3. It remains to be seen whether the artists involved in Tidal will receive preferential treatment from the service. Imagine Tidal becomes the biggest music service on the planet and Katy Perry (who apparently doesn’t own any of Tidal) drops a new single on the same day as Rihanna (who does). Which artist do you think will get the biggest push? And if Rihanna did get the biggest push from Tidal (which she’d be within her rights to expect, demand or even orchestrate), what does that say about fairness to artists?
Having said all this, if Tidal does properly support new artists (and not just in the VEVO Lift sense of ‘this act’s had a Number One single, let’s promote them’), and if labels’ own cut does increase in line with artists’, and if it does mean artists have to do fewer shit endorsement deals, and if it forces other streaming services to revise their own payouts, it could be a good thing.
But is it still alright to take the piss out of Jessie J?
Well we’re going to give the Tuc thing a rest for now. She’ll do another interview soon, there’s bound to be something funny in that.
UPDATE: These tweets from electronic artiste Mint Royale are interesting. Maybe there’ll be loads of cash for everyone!