Arcade Fire‘s Win Butler was among the initial signers of Tidal’s “declaration” at a superstar launch party in March, and in a new interview, the singer talked about the criticism facing Jay Z‘s streaming service. Speaking to The Independent, Butler also blamed the major labels for many of the struggles facing Tidal six months after its launch, calling them “completely clueless” for their continued hamstringing of the streaming industry.
Following Tidal’s all-star launch party, many artists who didn’t have a stake in the high-quality streaming service, like Mumford & Sons’ Marcus Mumford and Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, criticized the tone-deaf celebration. In retrospect, Butler agreed that the “declaration”-signing event wasn’t the best introduction to the service.
“None of the artists knew anything about the PR,” Butler said. “It was a poorly managed launch, but conceptually the thing that we liked about Tidal was that it’s HD streaming quality.” Tidal’s major selling point, in addition to exclusive content from artists like Jack White, Lil Wayne, Prince and Beyoncé, is the high quality files it streams. However, with that perk comes a price tag double that of its closest competitors, Spotify and Apple Music.
“We wouldn’t have joined it anyway, even if they had asked. We don’t want to be tribal,” Mumford said in April. “A band of our size shouldn’t be complaining. And when they say it’s artist-owned, it’s owned by those rich, wealthy artists. Gibbard noted, “I think they totally blew it by bringing out a bunch of millionaires and billionaires and propping them up onstage and then having them all complain about not being paid.”
However, Butler – whose band is signed to indie label Merge – defended aligning Arcade Fire with Tidal. “It seems silly, for fear of being embarrassed, to not at least sit at the table with Jay Z, Kanye and Daft Punk and talk about art and music and how it’s going to be distributed,” he said.
While Jay Z blamed his streaming competitors for the negative buzz following Tidal’s launch. Butler placed the blame solely on the major labels. “They dictated that Tidal has to cost $20,” Butler said. “The major label music industry has completely ruined every aspect of their business. At every step of the way they’ve had the tools offered to them to create an industry that works, and they’ve completely blown it. That’s why we never had any interest in signing a contract with one of these companies because they’re clearly completely clueless.”
In April, Jay Z addressed the Tidal criticisms in a series of tweets. “The iTunes Store wasn’t built in a day. It took Spotify 9 years to be successful,” the rapper wrote. “We are here for the long haul. Please give us a chance to grow & get better.”