It is entirely fitting that Jay-Z’s best defense of Tidal, his relatively expensive, artist-owned streaming music service, came in the form of a freestyle.
There’s already been quite a fierce backlash against Tidal, which Jay-Z bought for $56 million back in March. After some initial, heavy promotion, including a bizarre press conference, the app has fallen sharply in the rankings in both Apple’s iOS store and the Google Play store. Many argued that Tidal’s central pitch—that consumers should pay more for music because, well, they should—came across as a bunch of highly paid musicians complaining they’re not making enough money.
But in the freestyle, which took place at an exclusive event on Saturday night (May 16) in New York, Jay-Z addressed these criticisms in quite a devastating and profound fashion. The gist of his argument was that there is a double standard being applied against him and Tidal. But our words won’t do it justice, you should watch for yourself. (Some explicit language.)
Whether these arguments will resonate with consumers remains to be seen. Research suggest the majority of consumers don’t want to pay for music. Tidal does not have a free service and its main product, while offering higher-quality sound, costs twice as much as Spotify does.
So Tidal still has its work cut out for it, especially with Apple poised to enter the streaming market in a big way next month. In the meantime, it’s worth pondering how many entrepreneurs wish they had the skill to publicly take down competitors and critics like this.