By Terry Shropshire
Special to the NNPA via The Atlanta Daily World
Because of lackluster sales of his over-hyped, much-ballyhooed Tidal music service, rapper Jay-Z flew into a curious and rare public tirade about his struggles as a black man. During a recent concert performance, Beyonce’s husband even evoked the names of Freddie Gray and Trayvon Martin to express the grief he feels trying to build a business while trying to rip free from the grip of the white man’s oppression.
However, an image has been circulating online that has led some to wonder if Jay-Z is truly committed to hiring black people. The image features he and Beyonce taking a picture with a large staff that appears to be 100 percent white. Critics charge that Jay-Z’s recent on-stage rant about racism was a ploy to get the backing of the black community for his Tidal streaming service without him taking measurable steps toward true diversity within his company.
Twitter users tore into Jay Z for his appearance of hypocrisy:
Jay-Z’s supporters claim that with the company being originally based in Sweden, there was simply too small a pool of black people to hire. However, Tidal is a global business, with employees from a multitude of countries likely be involved. So, if he chose to surpass the 103,000 black people in the country of Sweden, there would surely be others willing to move in order to take the job.
Jay Z launched his “new” Tidal streaming service at the end of March along with a cohort of fellow musicians on stage Skylight at Moynihan Station in Manhattan, promising to forever change the course of music history.
Flanked by the likes of wife Beyonce, Madonna, Rihanna, Kanye West, Jack White, Alicia Keys, and Deadmau5, Hov announced that they were all shareholders in the first artist-owned music platform, which aims to give musicians a bigger cut for their music.
However many have questioned whether the app can be a success. According to Bloomberg, Aspiro, the company which was bought by Jay Z, has lost money every quarter since it was founded, losing $5 million in the final quarters of last year.
While being purchased by a conglomerate of celebrities caused an initial boost in popularity, the streaming app has since plummeted through iStore rankings.
That could be because users who initially signed up were treated to a free trial, but cancelled when it expired, meaning they would have to pay the $9.99 or $19.99 required to keep using.
Unlike rival Spotify, which is valued at $8 billion and occupies top spot for music apps in iStore, there is no free to use tier for Tidal, which may be driving users away.
Analysts estimate that as many as three quarters of Spotify’s users are using the free tier.
Also in Jay’s defense might be the fact that, despite the perception being given to the public, the rap mogul is not the majority owner of Tidal. Instead, the company is owned by numerous artists and investors, with Jay-Z serving as the public face of the venture.