May 29, 2015


The Week in Tidal: Is Nicki Minaj Still All In? Is She the Only One?


Welcome back to the Week in Tidal, a feature we're running as long as Jay Z's potentially exciting, intensely maligned streaming service keeps making #waves. Last time we looked at the roped-off debut of Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj'friendship-redefining "Feeling Myself" video, Jay's stellar B-sides concert and Jack White's extensive thoughts.

Celebrity Weighs in on Tidal Pt. 709, Black Keys Drummer Edition:

After a long, historically hip hop–heavy weekend, Nicki Minaj debuted her music video for "The Night Is Still Young" as a Tidal exclusive. We took a guess that, like "Feeling Myself," this clip would stick (mostly) to Tidal. So we put this together as a consolation prize...

...only to find that, one day later, "The Night Is Still Young" showed up on Nicki's official YouTube and Vevo accounts. It seemed for a minute there like Nicki was Tidal's biggest high-profile supporter besides Jay—she's doing a Pinkprint Tour video diary, she ran with the "Feeling Myself" gambit, she showed up for the weird, startastic press conference. Is "The Night Is Still Young" the first sign that Nicki and/or Cash Money are getting kinda tired of trying?

Folks went on to speculate that Onika was blocking them on Twitter after complaints about the restricted-section vibes of her Tidal exclusives. 

Plenty of people saw something troubling here:

And some went so far as to concoct a plan:

Bloomberg Businessweek swung hard this week with an almost-4,000-word piece titled "Why Jay Z’s Tidal Is a Complete Disaster." The news bullet everyone gleaned from it is that Beyoncé's own catalog could potentially vanish from Tidal sometime soon:

When [Jay Z] acquired [Tidal parent company] Aspiro, the change of ownership meant he had to renegotiate its streaming contracts with the three major record companies: Universal, Warner, and Sony Music Entertainment. Universal distributes the records of some of Roc Nation’s artists, so Jay Z was able to quickly reach an agreement with that company. But music industry people who are familiar with the negotiations and forbidden from discussing them publicly say that Sony and Warner are asking Tidal for large advances in return for the right to feature their artists’ catalogs. (None of the record companies would comment on Tidal.) A source close to Tidal said that the company’s financial condition is fine and that it reached a streaming rights deal in late May with Warner.

Nonetheless, if Jay Z can’t come up with the cash for Sony, he faces the possibility that Tidal might lose albums from some of its co-owners, most painfully Beyoncé, a Sony artist. “I’m pretty sure most of the artists that were at the press conference don’t control their own streaming rights,” says Peter Mensch, co-founder of Q Prime, the talent agency that manages the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Metallica.

Another quickie from the piece is that Aspiro has "lost money every quarter since the beginning of 2012, most recently losing about $5 million in the last three months of 2014, according to Aspiro’s public filings." Nice!

Tidal Rising Update: I have not yet investigated the Tidal feature titled Tidal Rising. But since Tidal news seems to be slowing down, I'll try to do this for next week. It's really, really hard to get me to tap the Tidal app when Spotify is right there and is my home and true love and savior.

Tidal Discovery Update: I have not yet investigated the Tidal featured titled Tidal Discovery. See above.

This one kinda hit me in the feels:

Ditto for this—not everyone's a hater!

And this week in Tweets That Don't Appear to Be About Tidal But Actually Are Secretly About Tidal: