Arcade Fire’s Win Butler Explains Tidal’s Botched Launch And Why Major Labels Are Clueless

The Reflektor Tapes, Arcade Fire’s new documentary on the making of their fourth album Reflektor, premiered last Friday at the Toronto International Film Festival, and The Independent took the opportunity to interview Win Butler and Régine Chassagne about various topics including Chassagne’s Haitian background, cultural appropriation, technology, and Tidal. Butler and Chassagne are shareholders in Jay Z’s company and were among the impressive cavalcade of celebs trotted out at the streaming platform’s overblown, oft-derided launch ceremony, but even they admit that the event gave off a bad impression. “None of the artists knew anything about the PR,” he says. “It was a poorly managed launch, but conceptually the thing that we liked about Tidal was that it’s HD streaming quality.” And why is Tidal continuing to struggle? Major labels, according to Butler:

They dictated that Tidal has to cost $20. The major label music industry has completely ruined every aspect of their business. At every step of the way they’ve had the tools offered to them to create an industry that works, and they’ve completely blown it. That’s why we never had any interest in signing a contract with one of these companies because they’re clearly completely clueless.

Despite its problems, though, Butler doesn’t regret his involvement with Tidal: “It seems silly, for fear of being embarrassed, to not at least sit at the table with Jay Z, Kanye and Daft Punk and talk about art and music and how it’s going to be distributed.” And this is what he had to say about Arcade Fire’s indie rock superstardom:

I think that we’ve ended up there because we work really hard and our records are really great. All I care about is the work. I don’t care if people recognise me when I leave this building. I’d really prefer if they didn’t, but I really do care about the work. David Bowie came to our first show in New York, which blew my mind, but now I see him as … not a contemporary, but like a professor. I see our band as trying to carry on that same spirit of what Bowie was doing, or Bruce Springsteen, or Radiohead, or any of these bands that were bold enough that I heard them in suburban Houston.

The Reflektor Tapes his theaters 9/23.