Mumford and Sons are the newest act to denounce Jay Z’s streaming service Tidal, claiming in an interview with The Daily Beast they were not invited and wouldn’t have accepted anyway.
“We wouldn’t have joined it anyway, even if they had asked. We don’t want to be tribal,” says frontman Marcus Mumford. “I think smaller bands should get paid more for it, too. Bigger bands have other ways of making money, so I don’t think you can complain. 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.”
It is another act seemingly uninterested in all of the buzzwords that Jay Z threw out during Tidal’s launch conference. Lily Allen, Knife Party’s Rob Swire and a few others have openly gone against the service - claiming it will do more bad than good.
“What I’m not into is the tribalistic aspect of it—people trying to corner bits of the market, and put their face on it,” Mumford continued. “That’s just commercial bullshit. We hire people to do that for us rather than having to do that ourselves. We just want to play music, and I don’t want to align myself with Spotify, Beats, Tidal, or whatever. We want people to listen to our music in their most comfortable way, and if they’re not up for paying for it, I don’t really care.”
That last part hits home the difference between Mumford and Sons and other artists, the fact they are okay with piracy if it means getting someone to listen to their music, and perhaps some day buy a ticket to one of the live shows.
Mumford and Sons last album Babel won countless awards and hit 600,000 sales in the first week, making them a pretty well off band. That does not seem to have clouded their judgement like it has with the Tidal owners, who now believe they are on some crusade to restore the music industry to its former glory.
Tidal relaunched last month, but we still have no exact figures on how many subscribers have joined the platform since. It offers two tier packages for $10 low-quality and $20 high-quality, with no freemium package to let users have a taste.
Spotify has denounced the idea of no freemium, claiming it would ruin a lot of the build up to a paying customer. Around a quarter of Spotify’s 60 million users pay for music, meaning streaming revenue is quite a lot lower than CD or iTunes revenue.
Taylor Swift left Spotify a few months ago, citing the lack of money being made on the platform. “I don’t understand her argument, either,” Mumford and Sons’ guitarist Winston Marshall said.” The focus is slightly missed. Music is changing. It’s fucking changing. This is how people are going to listen to music now—streaming. So diversify as a band. It doesn’t mean selling your songs to adverts. We look at our albums as stand-alone pieces of art, and also as adverts for our live shows.”
It looks like the band are in sync on their ideas about music streaming, clearly not sold by Jay Z’s attempt to redefine the music industry. It is not the last we'll hear from artists that find Tidal to be a putrid service with the wrong vision.