So, Jay Z and friends just bought their way into streaming, by starting Tidal. I'm not signing up yet, and I'll explain why.
The basic problem on free streaming
Apparently artists like Taylor Swift do not like the fact that services like Spotify have a free, ad-based service, as they think this is basically just giving away their music.
Spotify commented on this, in this blogpost back in November 2014, explaining that they see the ad-based, free subscription (which still pays royalties to the artists) as a way to avoid piracy, which pays the artists nothing at all, and also as a way to convince users to actually pay for their music, by letting them have a taste of the convenience Spotify offers.
Even though I pay for Spotify Premium, and have never used their ad-based version, I'm kinda on the side of Spotify here.
Fixing the Spotify revenue model
This is an issue, I think is more important to me, as a consumer of music, than the way the most popular artists are paid.
To me, as a consumer of a lot of music not on the top 10 (Or top 100) list of Spotify, the revenue sharing model they use, is broken.
Using the model, Spotify promotes, means that artists are paid by the streams played (and thus, the percentage of total plays they represent), not by the people playing them. This means that, if you're able to have millions of plays, you'll get paid by the people who never listens to your music, but have fewer plays on relatively unknown artists.
In the pre-Spotify era where all my music was bought on CD's, this would be the equivalent of me going to a store to buy an album by an upcoming metal band, and inadvertently paying 90% of the price to Rihanna, only due to the fact that more people listened to her music.
The New Yorker had an article on this back in 2013 on this issue, and to me, this is the biggest issue in the streaming models used today.
As far as I've seen, Tidal's revenue sharing model is based on playbacks as well, meaning that upcoming bands and labels are still not supported the way I'd like.
When a service appears, where my 99 DKK (that's 14.53 USD - yeah, we get screwed over in Denmark) for my premium, musicstreaming service is actually distributed among the artists I've listened to - I'll switch in a heartbeat.
Until then, my money stays with Spotify - and with supporting artists by buying concert tickets and merchandise (which is a more direct way to support the artists anyway).