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Opinion Editorials

Jay-Z blames failed business model on racism, freestyle raps his sour grapes

Jay-Z takes the stage, blaming racism for Tidal’s failed model – is this really the example we want to set for future entrepreneurs? Sales fall, blame racism?

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Jay-Z’s Tidal brand is failing

In March, Jay-Z-backed music streaming service Tidal launched on stage with music’s biggest names touting the revolution, and by this month, the buzz has already died down, many calling the service a failure. The irony is that as I write this, Jay-Z’s music is streaming in our offices, but not through Tidal.

People continue to ask why they would pay more for the streaming music service than competitors just for some exclusive content (which is the standard for streaming music, just ask artists featured every day on Spotify) and the chance to give artists more money.

Freestyling his sour grapes

As the buzz has died down, Jay-Z is steaming mad, and like any company owner, he’s taking to the stage to get his users pumped back up. But it might backfire, because he freestyle rapped his sour grapes and blamed his failed business on racism instead of re-asserting the merits of his young brand:

As an “independent,” he used to blast other rappers, but he’s a mogul now, so he’s attacking Pandora, Spotify, YouTube, and Apple (directly criticizing the late Steve Jobs’ wealth) during an exclusive concert for Tidal subscribers. Some call it a defense of his brand, we call it abuse of the race card and sour grapes.

“So I’m the bad guy now”

Jay Z addressed his subscribers Saturday, saying in a freestyle rap, “So I’m the bad guy now I hear, because I don’t go with the flow,” adding, “I feel like YouTube is the biggest culprit. Them n–gas pay you a tenth of what you supposed to get. You know n–gas die for equal pay, right? You know when I work I ain’t your slave, right?”

Tidal was designed to put music back in the hands of struggling artists, but was introduced by Kanye, Beyonce, Rhianna, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Deadmau5, Alicia Keys, and others who aren’t exactly in the “struggling” category. When we think of Tidal, the idea should be the thought of streaming music, not of Jay-Z – starpower is not enough (I mean, do you know what color skin Pandora or Spotify’s founder has, and did you chose to pay for it based on that? No? We didn’t think so).

That was strike one for Tidal. Strike two is the model (pay more, get the same as competitors). Could callously asserting that Tidal’s failure is the equivalent of the deaths of Freddie Gray, Mike Brown, and Trayvon Martin be strike three?

Sure, Jay-Z is pissed – ponying up $56M for a brand, firing a bunch of staff (including the CEO), and bringing star power to the launch hasn’t worked. Rumors are flying that Apple is poaching talent from Tidal for their own streaming music service, and Madonna who was on board at launch is using Meerkat to debut videos, not Tidal. Mumford & Sons have called them a plutocracy, and Lily Allen has said publicly that the business model will push people to the pirating sites and bypass legal streaming altogether (which is exactly what Steve Jobs worked so hard to stop). Kanye has deleted all mentions of Tidal from his Twitter stream. Talk about jumping ship.

If your brand is failing, what do you plan on doing? Throw a tantrum, or pick yourself up by the bootstraps? Is this really the example we want to set for young black entrepreneurs like 13 year old Moziah Bridges whose product is already in Neiman Marcus stores? When sales are down, blame racism?

Dr. Watkins analyzes Jay-Z’s reaction

Dr. Boyce Watkins from Your Black World offers his insight below, and we find it to be one of the more insightful reactions to Jay-Z’s performance:

In conclusion

The truth is that literally nothing Jay-Z can say will make us hate his music – even this misguided freestyle rap debacle.

His reaction to this failure, however, makes us want to run as far away from Tidal as possible and hope that our children aren’t listening to his rant, because his abuse of the race card is the equivalent of falsely accusing someone of rape, as it diminishes real instances of racism. We want this and the next generation of entrepreneurs to learn from their failures and rise above them, not believe that they’re entitled to success because they came up with an idea.

In closing, let us remember the words of Colin Powell: “Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.”

#TidalFailure

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Bob LeDrew

    May 20, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    I find the idea that he puts the looming failure of his crappy plan on the same plane as Freddie Gray and Trayvon Martin utterly offensive. He can write off his losses and walk away. They were written off and walked away from.

  2. Gabe Sanders

    June 20, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    I find it surprising that he's using the racism card for this. Ill advised as there's plenty of real racism around.

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Opinion Editorials

Have an in-person job interview? 7 tips to crush the competition

EDITORIAL) While we all know the usual interview schtick, take some time to really study for your next face-to-face job interview.

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Job interview between two women.

So, you’re all scheduled for an in-person interview for a job you’d kill for. It’s exciting that you’ve made it to this step, but the question is, are you ready? Especially with remote interviews being the new norm, your nerves may feel shaken up a bit to interview in person – but you’ve got this! And many of these tips can be applied no matter the interview setting.

We all know the basics of a job interview: dress nice, get there early, come prepared, firm handshake, yada, yada, yada… However, it’s good to really sit and think about all of the requirements of a successful interview.

There are seven steps for crushing a face-to-face interview. Do your homework upside down and inside out in order to walk into that room.

Which brings us to the first step: know everything you need to know backwards and forwards.

This can be done in two steps: getting to know the company and getting to know yourself. By doing website, social media, and LinkedIn research, you can get a feel of the company culture as well as the position you’re interviewing for.

By getting to know yourself, have a friend ask you some interview questions so you can practice. Also, take a look at your resume through the eyes of someone who doesn’t know you. Make sure everything is clear and can compete with other candidates.

The next step is to anticipate solving future problems. Have some insight on the department that you are interviewing for and come prepared with ideas of how to better this department. (i.e. if it’s marketing, give examples of campaigns you’ve done in the past that have proven to have been successful.)

Step number three requires you to go back to the research board and get some information on the employer. Find out who you’re meeting with (head of HR, head of the department, etc.) and make your self-presentation appropriate for the given person.

Next, work on making the interview conversation a meaningful one. This can be done by asking questions as people like to see you take an interest in them. Also, be sure to never answer the questions as if it’s your regular spiel. Treat each job interview as if this is the first time you’re presenting your employability information.

With this, your next step is to have stories prepared for the job interview. Anecdotes and examples of previous jobs or volunteer/organization experiences can help bring life to an otherwise run-of-the-mill resume.

After this, you’ll want to make sure that you’re showing enthusiasm for the position you’re interviewing for. Don’t jump on the couch in the lobby like you’re Tom Cruise on Oprah, but definitely portray that you’re excited and up for the challenge.

Lastly, make a good impression by being impressive. Be professional and in control of your body language. Put yourself in the mindset of whatever position you’re interviewing for and show them that you have what it takes.

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Opinion Editorials

The benefits of remote work are just too good to overlook

(EDITORIAL) Employees scream it from the rooftops and businesses don’t want to admit it: Remote work is just too beneficial to pass up- and here’s why.

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Work from home written with scrabble letters.

Remote work has been rising in popularity in the past several years. Especially following the COVID-19 global pandemic, more companies saw significant benefits for both their business and their staff that went beyond the realm of finances by allowing remote labor.

Less happily, many people lost their job during the pandemic, but they ended up having more time to put toward their passions or were compelled to get creative with their remote business ideas to ensure a consistent stream of income.

If you remain on the fence about allowing your employees to work remotely, or are considering a career shift yourself, take a look at the top four benefits of working remotely, which may sway your decision.

Better Overall Quality of Life

Allowing your employees to work remotely doesn’t necessarily mean they work from home full time. There are benefits to having your employees work in an office part of the time – say, two or three days – and working from home, in more familiar surroundings, the rest of the week.

In this way, your workers enjoy some freedom and independence while retaining the ability to interact face-to-face with their peers. That provides human interaction, which can play a substantial role in terms of improved mental health for your staff.

Happy employees means healthier employees, which can save your outfit money in the form of healthcare costs and lost productivity. But we will get further into the cost-saving benefits a little further on.

If you’re a remote worker, you should see yourself becoming significantly more productive. But why would this be the case if you don’t have a manager over your shoulder watching your every move?

It’s true that when employees have a greater sense of independence, they also experience a significant sense of trust on the part of their employers and managers. This is one of the huge benefits of working remotely because it has a trickle-down effect on the quality and overall production of people’s work.

Can Work Anywhere with Internet

Whether you are a small business owner or have crafted your work to tailor toward a life of remote labor, this is an opportunity for someone who has dreamed of being a digital nomad. You have the ability to work anywhere in the world as long as you have access to the Internet. If you love to travel, this is a chance to spend time in various places around the globe while continuing to meet your deadlines.

Multi-member Zoom call on a Apple Mac laptop with a blue mug of black coffee next to it.

Set Your Own Hours

In some cases with remote businesses, you have the freedom to set your own hours. Content writers, for instance, tend to enjoy more flexibility with regard to when they work because a lot of what they produce is project-based rather than tied to a nine-to-five schedule.

When you’re a business owner, this can be incredibly useful when you outsource tasks to save money. You can find a higher quality of performance by searching for contractors anywhere in the world and it doesn’t limit you to workers who live near to your office.

Saves Everyone Time and Money

 In the end, remote work typically saves money for every person and entity involved. Businesses save costs in terms of not having to pay for a physical space, utilities, Internet, and other expenses. This allows you, as the owner, to spend more of your income on providing quality software and benefits for your employees so your operation runs more smoothly and efficiently.

According to FlexJobs, employees or remote business owners may save around $4,000 on average every year for expenses such as car maintenance, transportation, professional clothing in the office, or even money spent dining out for lunch with coworkers. Eventually, the costs add up, which means extra money in your pocket to take that much-needed vacation or save up for a down payment on your first home.

These benefits of working remotely only skim the surface. There are also sustainability factors such as removing cars from the roads and streets, because people don’t have to travel to and from an office; or employees missing fewer workdays since they have the ability and freedom to clock in from home.

Weigh the pros and cons as to whether remote work is right for you as a business owner or online professional. You might be surprised to find that working from home for more than the duration of the pandemic is worthwhile and could have long-lasting benefits.

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Opinion Editorials

Do these 3 things if you TRULY want to be an ally to women in tech

(EDITORIAL) We understand diversity helps and strengthens our companies, and individual teams. But how can you be an ally to the talented women already on your workforce?

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Two women at meeting table discussing working in tech.

More and more women are leaving their positions with tech companies, citing lack of opportunity for advancement, wage gaps, and even hostile working conditions as some of the reasons why.

What’s better for the tech industry and its employees than cultivating inclusive and diverse departments? Diversity is known to strengthen the overall performance of a company and its teams, and there are a number of ways you can be an ally to the talented women already on your workforce. To name a few:

1. Be open to listening to different perspectives.

It can be awkward to hear so many reports of workplace politics stacking against women, especially if you’re not a woman!

Instead of getting uncomfortable or defensive – ask open ended questions and be interested in a perspective that isn’t yours and may be unfamiliar.

Don’t seek to rationalize or explain the experiences you’re hearing about, as that can come off as condescending. It’s common for women to be interrupted or spoken over in team gatherings. If you notice this happening, bring the conversation back to where the interruption began. Offering your ear and counting yourself as responsible for making space will improve the overall quality of communication in your company.

Listening to and validating what women have to say about the quality of their employment with a company is an important step in the right direction.

Expressing something as simple as “I was interested in what you had to say – could you elaborate on your thought?” can help.

2. Develop an Employee Resource Group (ERG) program.

An ERG is a volunteer-based, employee-led group that acts as a resource for a particular group of employees. An ERG can help to foster inclusiveness through discussion, team-building activities and events. It’s common for a department to have only one or two women on the roster.

This can mean that the day to day feels disconnected from concerns commonly shared by women. disjointed it might feel to be on a high performing team, without access to relatable conversations.

3. Be responsible for your company’s culture.

Chances are, your company already has some amazing cultural values in place. That said, how often are you checking your own performance and your co-workers performances against those high standards? Strong company culture and values sound great, but whether or not they’re adhered to can make or break the mood of a work environment.

Many women say they’ve experienced extremely damaging and toxic cultural environments, which lead to hostility, frustration, and even harassment. Take action when you see the new woman uncomfortable with being hit on at team drinks.

Call out those who make unfriendly and uncouth comments about how women perform, look, or behave.

Setting a personal threshold for these kinds of microaggressions can help you lead by example, and will help build a trustworthy allyship.

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