Jay Z’s impromptu appearance at New York University yesterday (April 1) allowed the Hip Hop mogul to speak directly to the millennial generation about his new music streaming service, TIDAL.

After briefly addressing a packed crowd inside of NYU’s Global Center for Spiritual Life, Jay Z and TIDAL executive Vania Schlogel participated in an extensive question-and-answer period with students and staff.

Spotify was brought up in comparison to TIDAL a number of times by students who wondered whether Jay Z’s recent acquisition is trying to rival the streaming giant that currently has over 60 million active users.

Jay emphasized to the crowd – on numerous occasions – that TIDAL doesn’t plan to “compete with anyone.”

“If just the presence of TIDAL causes other companies to have better pay structure, or to pay more attention to it moving forward, then we’ve been successful in one way,” he explained. “So we don’t really view them as competitors. As the tide rises, all the boats rise.

“We’re cool with, you know, they can be McDonald’s, we’ll be Shake Shack,” he continued. “We don’t have to be number one, we just want to be very specific and very great at what we do. We want people to come to Tidal for a specific sound, a specific experience, and to know that there are going to be the greatest new artists in the world, the biggest artists, introducing the newest artists, collaborations and things you’ve never seen before. That’s what we’re going to do.”

Students also asked Jay and Schlogel whether they would receive a discount for subscriptions, similar to what Spotify offers (At the conclusion of the event, attendees received free TIDAL temporary download cards).

“Yes,” Schlogel replied. “When we look at the data, the data says that students don’t really care about paying for streaming. I actually don’t believe that necessarily. I think that this demographic here, sitting in the room, cares very deeply about music. I think in fact that a lot of you have a deeper emotional connection with music than any data says. And so the short answer for that is, absolutely yes, because we want you all to be Team TIDAL and to be a part of this.”

When asked what role major labels will play in the streaming service, Jay Z explained that TIDAL “can’t exclude the major labels because they have contracts with the artists.”

“But if you don’t have a contract as an independent artist, then you can do whatever you want and we would love to work with you,” he said. “I’m on Tidal. I don’t have a record deal.”

The Q&A portion of the event began to drift when the question: “How does TIDAL tend to shift its current perception as a pretentious, self-serving platform for the musical elite, to one referencing the brand essence of being all and for all artists?” was posed to Jay Z.

“I guess by having a conversation, and telling people what it is,” he responded. “That opinion came before we even explained what it was… It’s not about being pretentious. Again, this is a thing for all artists. You pay $9.99 for Spotify, so why not $9.99 for TIDAL?

“We’re not saying anything other than that, and we’re saying that we’re in a position to bring light to this issue. We’re using our power that way. And of course there are greater causes, of course. There are other problems, real problems going on in the world. We don’t miss the problems; we try to take care of them all. Imagine the President: he has to take care of ISIS, gay rights, equal pay for women, discrimination — all at the same time! So, you can’t say ‘You started this site when you should be out in St. Louis!’ It’s like, okay, J. Cole is out in St. Louis. I wasn’t in St. Louis, but I was in the governor’s office. Because, we can march all day long but if the laws don’t change, then we’ll be marching again and it’ll just be a different slogan on the shirt, and that’s a greater tragedy as well. Everyone has to play their part, everyone has to do different things, and it all has to happen at the same time.”

Photo/Video Credit: Sean Paik (Washington Square News)

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