Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States, inducted Jay Z, rapper and businessman, into the Songwriters Hall of Fame Thursday via a prerecorded video message, humanizing the rapper in the process.
Jay Z, born Shawn Carter, has a Twitter account that he seldom uses, but made an exception Thursday night after his induction. Carter thanked just under 100 musicians, according to The Fader, in a slew of tweets. The rare public outburst by Carter brought into fruition what I had observed, and researched, the majority of Carter's career, and it's the fact fans don't know who he is outside of the music.
After watching Obama's message, I thought to myself I don't know this guy's favorite color, food, etc. Then again, the question of how much information is too much to give away to your fans arises. However, Obama indirectly unveiled who Carter was, on Carter's behalf, in his message. Reminiscing, Obama went into a brief anecdote during a time which something Carter said "struck" him.
According to Obama, Carter said "I've never looked at myself, and said that 'I need to be a certain way to be around a certain sort of people," Obama said in the message. "I've always wanted to stay true to myself, and I've managed to do that. People have to accept that."
Indeed, Carter has managed to do just that, changing the landscape of the music industry in the process. Here's a few examples of Carter's impact.
First, back in February of 2016 the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) announced a new Album Award methodology for its Gold & Platinum Program, according to a press release. In addition, the release said the RIAA now factors audio and video streams and a track sale equivalent in Gold & Platinum (G&P’s) Album Award(s). Essentially, the RIAA factors sales and streams for singles and album certifications into their Gold & Platinum benchmarks.
The decision was inspired by Carter's Magna Carta Holy Grail album. Before the change, there was a 30 day grace period to get certification for digital sales. But Carter sold a million digitial copies to Samsung. With the change, Carter's album was able to go platinum in its first week. Liz Kennedy, the director of the RIAA's Gold & Platinum Program, offered an explanation.
"Going forward, sales of albums in digital format will become eligible on the release date, while sales of albums in physical format will still become eligible for certification 30 days after the release date."
However, Billboard didn't recognize the copies sold to Samsung in its chart placement of Carter's album, causing Carter to air out his frustration on Twitter.
"If 1 Million records gets SOLD and billboard doesn't report it, did it happen," Carter said in a tweet. "Ha. #newrules".
A few years later Carter completed the purchase of Tidal for just under $60 million. Carter's main goal with the company is to bring major revenue streams back to the music artists themselves. In addition, the idea of an artist-owned streaming platform was stated as to "restore the value to music by launching a service owned by artists."
The idea of Tidal, an artist owned streaming platform, is revolutionary, but time will be our judge pertaining to the success of the company. In the past, major labels were notoriously known for their 360 deals they'd offer artists. Essentially, the deal made sure the label got a percentage of every stream of income the artist earned. Carter envisions an industry where artists can make a living off of streams.
As of right now, the only blatant artist to do so is The Weeknd.
If there's a will, there's a way for Tidal to succeed. And if not, I don't doubt Carter will find another way to turn the music industry upside down.