Jay-Z took to Twitter on Sunday to defend his music streaming service Tidal, addressing weeks of criticism that Tidal won’t last long in an oversaturated market. Meanwhile, Israeli make-your-own-website company Wix.com is hoping to change the game for artists in the very same market.
The top contender in the music streaming services market is Spotify, with over 15 million paying subscribers. Tidal’s numbers lag far behind at over 770,000 subscribers, Jay-Z revealed on Sunday, but it has only been a month since the company’s launch.
The Israeli company’s new vertical WixMusic was launched at the end of March, just a day after Tidal debuted in a star-studded event. WixMusic has received a lot less hype, but unlike Tidal, it promises to help artists make their own websites where they can sell their own albums and stream their songs through an embedded WixMusic player on their site. Artists would be free to determine their own pricing and Wix takes no commission.
WixMusic’s aim, like Tidal, is to help musicians plagued by declining CD sales and meager royalties from other streaming services, such as Spotify. Tidal offers a 75 percent royalty rate to artists and promises to find new talent in addition to the big stars it already showcases.
Artists looking to directly sell albums can already use the popular website and private company Bandcamp, but users must pay a 15 percent revenue share on digital sales. Unlike Bandcamp, WixMusic emphasizes a more flexible design.
WixMusic lets users sell merchandise and use analytics to watch over sales. The intention is to give upcoming artists a chance to gain a following and to help experienced, already successful artists gain more control over their websites, cutting out the middlemen, and staying true to their artistic visions.
“If you heard an amazing new band on Spotify, you might typically go to their website and find a clunky and poorly branded Web page that may or may not be selling their albums directly,” said Eric Mason, director of Strategic Communications at Wix.com, by email, “WixMusic steps in to fill this void.”
If users upgrade to premium, Wix charges a flat rate from $5 a month to $25 a month, depending on the package chosen.
“For any musician this is a big deal, but particularly for small bands just getting started,” said Mason. “Until now building that website complete with the ability to upload, sell, and track music sales and shares all without knowing any code and without commissions didn’t exist.”
Mason added, “Many musicians end up looking for coding help, (or hope the bass player or drummer really does have a minor in computer science) …”
While WixMusic’s concept is very different from that of a streaming service, it promises to solve the major issues that users have with Spotify and Tidal. Both services don’t allow DJ mash-ups and music that samples other songs without having copyright permission. According to Mason, any kind of music can be uploaded to websites powered by Wix.
Both Tidal and WixMusic’s beta version have been live for almost a month now, but the success of their services will depend on how necessary users find them in the highly competitive market.
As Jay-Z tweeted, it won’t be an easy road for either service: “The iTunes Store wasn’t built in a day. It took Spotify 9 years to be successful. … We are here for the long haul. Please give us a chance to grow & get better.”
The iTunes Store wasn’t built in a day. It took Spotify 9 years to be successful …
—Mr. Carter (@S_C_) April 26, 2015
We are here for the long haul. Please give us a chance to grow & get better. #TidalFacts
—Mr. Carter (@S_C_) April 26, 2015