Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Mumford & Sons: not part of the Tidal one per cent

A successful band like Mumford & Sons will be all over Jigga’s Tidal buzz like a rash, right? Well, no

The tide is out: Mumford & Sons

Mon, Apr 13, 2015, 10:25


There are many (many) derogatory things you could say about Mumford & Sons and their music, but we can chalk one up for them in the good guys’ stakes when talk turned in a recent interview to Tidal. In case it has slipped your mind, Tidal is the all-singing, all-dancing streaming music shizzle from Jay Z and his mates which aims to make everyone in the world bow down to their greatness and worship them from sunrise to sunset while paying €20 a month for the pleasure (at least, I think that’s what the press release said).

It turns out that there are some successful acts who are prepared to call this one as they see it. Speaking in the interview, band members Marcus Mumford and Winston Marshall pointed out a couple of things which didn’t add up for them about the Tidal manifesto when they put it to the test.

“We don’t want to be tribal,” said Mumford, confirming that his band hadn’t been asked to join. “I think smaller bands should get paid more for it, too. Bigger bands have other ways of making money, so I don’t think you can complain. A band of our size shouldn’t be complaining. And when they say it’s artist-owned, it’s owned by those rich, wealthy artists.”

Aside from calling the Tidal shareholders “new school fucking plutocrats”, Marshall went on to add that “we don’t want to be part of some Tidal ‘streaming revolution’ nor do we want to be Taylor Swift and be anti-it. I don’t understand her argument, either. The focus is slightly missed. Music is changing. It’s fucking changing. This is how people are going to listen to music now – streaming. So diversify as a band. It doesn’t mean selling your songs to adverts. We look at our albums as stand-alone pieces of art, and also as adverts for our live shows.”

You can be sure that Mumford & Sons are not the only artists with quibbles about Tidal’s business model. Any service which launches itself in the way Tidal did – with a strong bang of privilege, elitism and entitlement off it – is always going to attract strong words, though it’s rare that you’ll find high-profile artists having a pop in such a fortright way at either other artists or a service which ultimately will pay them money down the line. Perhaps this is the beginning of it and every single music interview for the rest of 2015 will have the act in question, as long as they’re not one of the Tidal 14, having a go at poor ol’ Jigga.

Will the Tidal premo care? Probably not, though he will probably delete Mumford & Sons from his workout playlists. Tidal’s launch has made a bunch of noise but the real work is just beginning. The job now is make a splash in an increasingly crowded market and try to stay ahead of the various conspiracy theories which are stacking up. The one about Tidal being a front for another Live Nation takeover and lockdown was interesting until you realised some of the bands didn’t swing that way. Then, there was the one that this was some sort of Swedish share price ruse, though people obviously didn’t read the small print. It shows once again that there’s nothing like a gang of famous pop stars (and that country dude that no-one really knows) grinning for the camera to get people talking.