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50 Cent wonders why you'd buy into Tidal for music

Technically Incorrect: In a radio interview, the musician and businessman suggests Jay Z's new service is all business and no real artistic difference.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


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50 Cent was being very real about Tidal. Real 92.3/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

I did worry when Jay Z brought out a politburo of stars to launch his new Tidal streaming service.

It looked a little too much like famous people expecting mortals to genuflect before them and put money on their latest collection plate.

There seems little evidence so far that this collection plate is overflowing. Non-Tidalers such as Mumford and Sons have sniffed that Tidal is a touch plutocratic, rather than democratic.

But now celebrated musician and businessman 50 Cent has offered two of his spare cents. In comments made to hip hop radio station Real 92.3, Fitty seemed a little fittied to be tied at Jay Z's alleged hubris in asking people to pay money for a service that the likes of Pandora and Spotify offer for free.

He made some extremely businesslike points (near the end of the interview) about Tidal's come-hither wave. For example: "The people that you saw there don't even own the rights to their music. So they can't say it's just going to come out on Tidal."

He explained: "Why would you actually buy Tidal to get something that would be everywhere else?" That does seem one of the potential weaknesses of the Tidal offering: what is special about its offering that is worth either $9.99 or even $19.99 a month?

50 Cent also gave an excellent insight into the very branding of Tidal. Here were these artists suggesting they were doing it for the integrity of music, for the struggling artists.

Instead, as 50 Cent indicated: "Usher was there and Madonna and all these people. That's a little bit more of a, when you say, 'it was business,' it's more of a corporate play."

There didn't seem to be many struggling artists on the launch stage explaining why Tidal would help them.

Jay Z has vigorously defended the service. He says it's doing "just fine." He's even been calling Tidal subscribers to thank them when they sign up.

Adulation, though, has its limits. People now believe they can pick and choose music tracks, just like they pick and choose menu items. Just as Kanye doesn't sell out every show, so people don't always blindly give money because a star -- even one they like -- says "please give me money."

Show me the difference, the customer sniffs.