For those of us who aren’t active as they’d prefer to be on social media, Tidal High Fidelity music streaming is Shawn Carter (Jay-Z’)’s new music streaming service. Since it was launched last month, there has been much speculation by sceptics who believe Tidal is headed for failure. Critics have pecked on it readily like vultures on carcass and social media has been, as usual, very harsh in their backlash. But is the ready dismissal of Tidal too cruel? Is there really no way Tidal can win over the public? Should you give Tidal a chance? As a trend analyst, it’s my business to find out. Here’s my interview/ interrogation with music connoisseur Ionut Bianconi:
Since the launch of Tidal I’ve been following on Twitter and reading related articles to just get a general peek into what most people think about the new service. If I hadn’t done that, the key word here would be ‘service’. Services aren’t free, so tell me – What’s wrong with Tidal?
Jay-Z has proposed a service that already exists. There is nothing remotely original about Tidal. We have so many streaming services out there today that are available to people around the world. There are other ways to listen to music or to download at personal convenience. We already have Youtube, Spotify, Soundcloud, others – and Spotify all over again. No one’s interested in paying more for a service they can have at a lower price. Tidal is not an innovative product.
But Tidal has features that are exclusive to that service. They have a fidelity service that lets you listen to HQ music.
Which is great but how much a difference does it make to the average person that has no complaints about their current streaming service? Tidal is very restrictive because the first thing you do when you download the app is pay. You pay even before you start the free trial. People want to know what they’re buying before they buy it. They want to know if the risk is worth it. The restriction makes the service look very cultesque. Jack White’s concert airing exclusively on Tidal was a good move, but it was not enough. All that exclusive content is not enough to make people feel that paying that much for a streaming service is worth it.
Speaking of the White Stripes exclusive concert… What if Jay-Z and other artists stopped dropping content on Youtube and other streaming services in favour of Tidal – would it be successful then?
No. They wouldn’t do that, first off and second thing is not every artist will go with them. He has the most powerful artists in the world on his side but new artists come out everyday. The average person in America has high financial debts to pay and at that fee… they’re going to loose more money than they’re making now. People would completely boycott them, even if they had the money for it because of the ethic behind it.
Tell me, if Jay-Z had made Tidal a streaming service for Indie Music or a platform for artists to submit their mix tapes to his record label and other record labels, would it have been successful?
Maybe but not likely. Not for that fee. Oh so it’s the fee that’s the problem. There are four problems. The first is that Jay-Z is a well known celebrity figure and that doesn’t help him here. Celebrities will get backlash for anything they do. If this was an app launched by a faceless person, or a company, it would have had a better chance at success. Most people don’t know who’s behind Spotify and Soundcloud while Snapchat and Facebook CEOs became famous after the creation of their services. Jay-Z may be treated too harshly because of who he is. Haters must hate. People already think Jay-Z is in the illuminati and all those other artists up there. Second problem is the fee. People always expect celebrities to be charitable because of all the money in the industry. Nobody wants to pay that amount of money especially if they know Jay-Z and other artists are behind it. The third problem is Tidal is too exclusive. It’s like a small luxury tribe of people. You can’t test the service, you have to sign up before you can peek into anything. The fourth problem is that the promotion was an epic fail. It was all too sudden like they wanted to make it happen right now. Showing Beyonce and Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna and all those other hit makers got people to click on the Youtube add, but it didn’t get them to empty their wallets. Madonna, Alicia Keys and Beyonce changed their cover photos to blue for Tidal and they got attention from their followers but the add did not appeal to people’s pockets.
You say nobody wants to use that service but over 700,000 people are subscribed to the service one month later.
Seven hundred thousand people out of seven billion? That’s not too much to brag about to me. Don’t forget that Tidal was originally launched by Aspiro in 2014. There were already people signed up to it.
What would you do if you were Shawn Carter?
I would kill off Spotify. I have the most powerful artists, I would withdraw my songs or reduce them and other artists in Tidal would do the same. I would also offer a trial service for a month and be consistent in putting up interesting content that would not be so obviously publicity stunts like Beyonce’s new song. I would promote it better: no more commercials with all the famous people gathered in one room when they’re not singing for World Peace. I would offer the service free but if I couldn’t do that then I’ll sell complete new albums on Tidal for less than you would get them elsewhere, bonus tracks from hot artists that would really be called ‘hot new singles’… the whole marketing strategy has to change.
What role do the Iluminati play in this? Do you believe in the theory?
No, but a lot of people do. They may not be members of the ‘Illuminati’ but they are using the rumours to their advantage. The message most music videos promote is questionable to most people. People need to understand what the Illuminati really is about. Hip-hop isn’t taking over the world. The Illuminati is a sect of people who claim to be especially enlightened in a particular thing. So what are musicians ‘Illuminati’ of? Then again, they are using people’s fear of the unknown to control their reactions. Still Michael Jackson’s Blood On The Dance Floor album art would raise some brows.