By Philip Cosores
If TIDAL’s launch ceremony seemed a little familiar, it was, whether known to Jay Z and his new partners or not. A similar act took place almost 100 years ago in 1919, when D. W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks created United Artists. Even the name “United Artists” seems to symbolize what Jay Z is going for in his recruitment of partners ranging from Arcade Fire to Alicia Keys as co-owners of this new music streaming service.
For United Artists, the idea was simple. Chaplin, an actor, Griffith, a director, Pickford, an actress, and Fairbanks, an actor/writer/director, all wanted control of their own commercial interests rather than relying of the large corporate movie studios to handle their affairs. At the time, they were at the top of the cinematic food chain, and the company they created was a way in which they could control their own creative and financial choices.
Obviously, the company name has existed in some aspect since its creation, but the legal troubles and power struggles that the company faced over the course of its run is the subject of much historical writing.
Still, this video shows the company at its beginning, with nothing but optimism for how great the industry might be if the artists remained in control.