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Mumford & Sons and Death Cab For Cutie criticise artists involved in Tidal’s launch

By | Published on Tuesday 14 April 2015

Mumford & Sons

At the end of that awkward Tidal launch event last month, I reckon at least four of the big name artists who squirmed their way through it genuinely thought they’d done something good for all artists everywhere. So they’ll probably be upset to hear that some other musicians are pretty ungrateful about their decision to accept equity in a company (and possibly a stack of cash) for the good of the music community at large.

Speaking to The Daily Beast, Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie said: “If I had been Jay-Z, I would have brought out ten artists that were underground or independent and said, ‘These are the people who are struggling to make a living in today’s music industry. Whereas this competitor streaming site pays this person fifteen cents for X amount of streams, that same amount of streams on my site, on Tidal, will pay that artist this much'”.

“I think they totally blew it by bringing out a bunch of millionaires and billionaires” he added, “and propping them up on stage and then having them all complain about not being paid. 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. And they didn’t do it. That’s why this thing is going to fail miserably”.

Talking of failing to deliver the right message to consumers, we’ve seen some evidence that some consumers are under the impression that the Tidal deal is $20 to access just the music of the sixteen artists at the launch, and that Tidal will be the only place to stream that content. Which isn’t the product at all, but these things will happen when your launch is all about your a-lister supporters, with nothing said about your actual service.

And don’t think the Tidal dissing stops with Gibbard. Mumford & Sons are another band not impressed with a bunch of millionaires standing on stage claiming to stand up for the little guy. Also speaking to The Daily Beast, they said they weren’t invited to be involved with the launch but “wouldn’t have joined it anyway, even if they had asked”.

“We don’t want to be tribal”, continued Marcus Mumford. “I think smaller bands should get paid more for it too. Bigger bands have other ways of making money, so I don’t think you can complain. A band of our size shouldn’t be complaining. And when they say it’s artist-owned, it’s owned by those rich, wealthy artists”.

“What I’m not into is the tribalistic aspect of it”, he continued. “People trying to corner bits of the market, and put their face on it. That’s just commercial bullshit. We hire people to do that for us rather than having to do that ourselves. 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”.

As previously reported, Tidal’s Chief Investment Officer defended the musicians who pledged allegiance to the company (or whatever it was they were doing on that stage) saying: “There is bravery in what these artists are trying to do. It’s not to fill their own pockets, it’s to create a sustainable industry. And what we’re promising to people is, ‘this is gonna continue to evolve’ and we really mean that”.

One of the selling points of the revamped Tidal, of course, is the use of exclusive content to draw consumers in. But, asks an article in this month’s CMU Trends Report, is the music industry really ready or prepared to create the amount of exclusive content required? Especially when Tidal isn’t going to be the only company asking for it.

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