As a high-concept introduction to this idea, you might imagine “Pitchfork + music streaming” as a move in the right direction.

The previous entry, Steal This Idea: Independent music streaming as a “fair-pay” Internet utility (click here), will fill you in further on details in case you want to be brought up to speed.

An “artists first” revenue model combined with aggregating reviews from multiple reputable sources may be an ideal starting point.

To my knowledge, advances in technology and culture most often come as the result of war between countries and/or deep-pocketed patrons (including governments) paying for passion projects. This is true from the painting of Mona Lisa to the invention of the Internet. Throughout history, the average person has usually been too trapped scrabbling for a few pesos to be able to worry or care about “art”. As we witness now on the Internet, the “common man” still has very little grasp of the value of time or creativity, and so we see a myriad of psuedo-moral rationalizations for what essentially amounts to stealing all forms of digitally creative work.

That’s the key question here, really: when given the opportunity, will people choose to do the right thing?

Tidal’s only apparent purpose is to use streaming as another brand marketing avenue for super-wealthy artists who already have tip-of-the-tongue, top-of-mind name recognition. Stratospherically successful artists (Jay-Z, Taylor Swift) need neither profit to fund their work, nor recognition of their skill, nor do they need fame from new fans to fuel interest and gain visibility. The stated purpose of Tidal is at variance with the multi-millionaires pretending to represent the “little guy”. We see cracks in the shimmering facade due to their reluctance/refusal to divulge details about their revenue model in regard to paying artists.

Jay-Z does say many of the right things, though. And so do politicians around election time. I don’t pretend to know his motives, but if you look at how the available facts fit, there is an incongruity that’s hard to ignore.

Another key difference here would be to attract truly “indie” artists who may not be tied up in artist management issues. This could remove the unnecessary mass of middlemen, as well as the intellectual property gouging artist throat-cutting that was par for the course in the pre-digital era. All of that becomes superfluous when the artist can connect directly with the consumer.

In order for artists (of all kinds) to truly become independent, they/we need to own the rights to our work.

A “fair-pay” approach like this one puts all terms and conditions upfront and in central view, no hype or shifty tactics required.