Jay Z continues his media tour to support the launch of his newly acquired streaming service TIDAL. Yesterday, April 1, HOV spoke at New York University's Clive Davis Institute of Recording Music and fielded questions from the inquisitive crowd of students who grilled him on a variety of topics, including how TIDAL benefits artists, how it is different from other services and its relationships with labels. Sitting with company executive Vania Schlogel, he also revealed more details about how the service works. He said TIDAL pays the highest royalty percentage and that he does not have a record deal.
The pair was right off the bat asked how artists will be compensated with the criticism that is being lobbied at the streaming industry for incredibly low payouts per stream.
"There is no free tier and we'll pay the highest royalty percentage," HOV responded. "That's how we'll change the industry."
Jay tried to dispel the notion that they were trying to compete with Spotify and want to create their own brand.
"We're really not here to compete with anyone, we're actually here to improve the landscape," he said.
Jay emphasized that the higher royalty payouts will benefit not just performers, but also the writers and producers who make the music industry hum.
"But what about the writers who do that for a living? The producers? That's it for them ... I think we'll lose a lot of great writers in the future because you have to do something else, because you can't sustain a lifestyle, and I think that's a shame," he said.
The pair talked about the service's dealing with labels and admitted they have to sign contracts with majors, but it is not necessary because Jay is not even on one.
"I'm on TIDAL. I don't have a record deal. So ... yes," he said.
Jay Z and TIDAL are saying all of the right words to try and turn the tide in their favor, but the verdict is still out on the streaming service. With major music players like Rihanna, Madonna, Daft Punk, Jack White, Drake, Kanye West and Beyoncé among others all joining the movement, it is hard to see it not going somewhere at least to start.
Read the full Q&A transcript via The Fader.