In a recent interview, 50 Cent slammed fellow rapper Jay Z's streaming music service. The rapper and entrepreneur stated that a more diverse roster of independent artists could have made Tidal more exciting and that it doesn't offer enough exclusive content to subscribers.
Jay Z purchased the streaming service in 2014 for a reported $56 million, and relaunched it in March with a huge marketing campaign featuring numerous top music artists across multiple genres, who are also partial owners of the company. Among the stars participating along with Jay Z and wife Beyonce are Rihanna, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Jack White, Madonna, Daft Punk, Arcade Fire, Chris Martin, deadmau5 and Drake.
After a much publicized press conference featuring many of the owner-artists, the Tidal mobile app quickly shot into the top 20 in the iTunes app store — briefly. It then quickly dropped to the depths of the sales chart, where it has remained since. Critics panned the project and most consumers quickly lost interest, and now 50 Cent has chimed in with his spin on the project.
50 Cent, also known as Curtis James Jackson III, feels that Tidal made a crucial error in not inviting independent artists like himself to join the service.
"They probably could've did something more exciting if they reached out, because the people you saw (at the press conference) don't even own the rights to their music," he said. "So they can't say it's gonna come out of Tidal. It has to go everywhere. So why would you actually buy Tidal to get something that would be everywhere else?"
Indeed, the music of most of the artists presented as owners of Tidal is available through much bigger and more popular rivals Spotify and Pandora, including the majority of Jay Z's catalog.
"[The companies] have contracts and companies are gonna do everything to get the maximum performance out of the music. They're not gonna just put it through Tidal as a service," 50 pointed out.
While Tidal promises exclusive content, its offerings to date have not been compelling enough to entice consumers. While Jay Z has pulled some of his own content from Spotify, such as his debut album "Reasonable Doubt" – making it a streaming exclusive to Tidal – proprietary content from other artists has been limited so far, such as behind-the-scenes clips from the making of Madonna's "Ghosttown" video. 50 Cent points out that independent artists such as himself "could have made something special come through Tidal."
Another reason Tidal is being viewed as a failure by many is the cost. While a basic membership goes for $10, subscribers wanting the high definition audio quality – which has been heralded by Tidal as a reason to choose the service – are required to pay double that amount. $20 a month is proving to be too prohibitive for consumers, many of whom don't even have the listening equipment or refined ears necessary to differentiate Tidal's improved sound quality from the streams of its cheaper and more popular competitors.