I can hear you Jay Z, gloating in the glory of a signed cheque for 56 million dollars. To buy a company you say? A defunct company that you have rescued out of the ashes with all the hard work you put into signing that cheque. Amazing! O what’s that you’ve invited some friends along? Twenty in fact, all at a 3% stake while you hang on to the majority share, because its all about the artists, toiling away at their given ‘talents’ for that ‘meagre’ royalty cheque at the end of the day. So who are your friends? O there’s Kanye, what a surprise. He’s obviously destitute and needs more money for that golden toilet he calls a mouth. All that hard work he puts in to making a spectacle must be so demanding. And that’s before we get to the time and effort he puts into his music. No wait that’s wrong, isn’t it, Mr. Z? He’s not the one putting in the time and effort in is he? All those producers he pays off in Tesco sandwiches put in the hard work really, don’t they? He takes their music and re-arranges into some sort of scrapbook he likes to call albums, while he whiles away his time moaning over a microphone. You know the deal; you helped him assemble just such a scrapbook on Watch the Throne. Remember, you both drawled on it, boasting about how successful you are and how much money you make. Is that not the case anymore? Is that why you need that extra money in royalties every month? Wait, but who else is in your little clique. Madonna! Wow you got Madonna, and she has something to say, what a surprise! Is it that she’s never gonna stop! I think I heard that one before, maybe on the last three albums. No it’s a new word, Art and I can tell she likes the word, because she can’t stop using it. She might never stop. Where was the artistic intent in your last album, Madonna? Or perhaps I misunderstood. Is art what you call it when you wrap the image of Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela in bondage tape? O I apologise, I didn’t realise it was art. I thought it was just cultural insensitivity. Wait, I also recognise those helmets. Daft Punk is there, or at least somebody dressed as Daft Punk, you can never tell. Are they still relevant? I know they found that old record from the seventies a couple of years back and slapped a Daft Punk sticker on it, but what else have they been doing except sweating in those ridiculous mask. What are they doing there? Ah they must need the money to pay back all those advertising geniuses for the hype they managed to drum up around that record of half-assed ideas. I can’t tell why they are there, because I can’t hear them through their disguise. Does anybody really care?
They are gathering around the table to sing the praises of their truly ‘unique‘ vision, and praise each other’s arts. There goes Madonna again with her word du jour. O by the way guys, Nils Frahm just released some music. But you won’t care because you have something to gripe about again. Life must be really tough from your adorned pedestal. Nils Frahm’s album Solo slips by the rest of us unnoticed too, his rich textural compositions not able to counteract the shouting going on from that singular soapbox. Wait what’s Jay Z saying now? He says it’s the future. I think you might be five years to late for that one. What else is he saying? He says it’s gonna cost you twice as much as Spotify, but that’s ok because its a higher fidelity. Nils Frahm album is free and its a lossless wav file. You can get it here. Jay Z and kin can’t even begin to comprehend the concept of free music. They want you to pay for it and they don’t just want a one-off payment anymore. In the past they’d make you pay one fee and you could listen to it over and over again until the format became redundant, but they’ve noticed the potential in streaming services and they have always been greedy. Now, they want you to pay for it over and over again at $20 a month. Let that just sink. You are paying a fee every month so Jay Z and co. can rake in money from their back catalogue without having to create any new music. Music is a commodity to these people, and even though Madonna loves to refer to her and her clique’s music as Art, artistic intent seems like a foreign concept to them. Materialistic pursuits clouds their decision-making skills and they get completely swept up in something like Tidal, a most contrived selfish act, that they convince themselves is actually egalitarian.
Maybe it’s time to return to the ideas of patronage, and redistribute some of the money more evenly.The taxes that multimillionaire businessmen like Jay Z should pay, can go on to fund cultural incentives that benefits the arts and its independent players. Places like Switzerland and Amsterdam have been doing it for some time and the artists that it produces as a result is unimpeded by profitability in his/her creative pursuits. These are the artists who really don’t reap the benefits of streaming services, but whom you’ll still find on these services. They understand the importance of a platform that makes music available to everybody, even if it means Jay Z and Beyoncé are the biggest winners at the end of the day, taking the majority stake in that claim. And yet you, Jay Z and co. still feel you need to grouse about it, claiming you are not receiving your fair share, because you can’t stand the fact that Spotify takes 30%. So why is your catalogue still on Spotify? Because you know streaming services are finally paying out more than physical sales, and you don’t merely want the biggest chunk, you want the whole chunk, for the sake of the artist of course, the poor underprivileged multimillionaire recording artist.
Enough is enough. Jay Z, Daft Punk, Madonna, Kanye West and all the rest of you, your day is over. The day of the superstar recording artist is over. Your entitlement is no longer valid. Independent artists, who slave away for a tiny percentage of the market you saturate, are the ones that need the pittance that streaming makes for them. So Jay Z, when you launch Tidal, you and your friends must make sure to remove all your music from other streaming services and give those to the independent artists. The absence of your excessive play rate (which is possibly purchased like facebook likes) will mean a fairer distribution amongst the independent artists. Also make sure to take your marketing team with you. I don’t want to hear about your latest banal release if I don’t have to. I can still hear you Jay Z. Why is that?