A thread about Tidal is currently at the very top of Reddit’s front page. Kanye’s latest album is being distributed exclusively via Tidal, a development that put Tidal at the top of the App Store. However, users are unable to access the album. There are rumors that it isn’t even ready for release yet, and the service has been quiet about when people can expect to receive their purchase.
By the time you read this, it will have been resolved and forgotten, but this highlights how a service has once again forgotten the lessons learned through the large-scale piracy of music and video content:
1.) Make it easier to get content through your service than through piracy.
2.) Distribute content in a high-quality format (or at least equal to what people will get through a torrent, anyway).
3.) Charge some amount of money for it. It doesn’t even really matter how much – if you achieve numbers 1 and 2, people will pay for it.
Since Jay-Z relaunched his music streaming company Tidal in March, I’ve watched their progress with interest.
The streaming music market is a crowded space. In order to succeed, a business can’t simply be a “Me Too” service. It has to be easier to use, have more and/or exclusive content, have better features, be cheaper, or – even better – have more than one of these qualities.
Tidal has HD audio and some exclusive content. According to some, their interface is better than other services. That should be enough for them to at least have a small but dedicated user base, but I think there are two reasons they’re struggling (so much so that Jay-Z has forgotten about it): a) Higher price, and b) Mismanaged PR.
Today’s NY Times piece by Jon Caramanica hits the nail on the head when it comes to Tidal’s mismanaged PR woes:
“It’s hard to see Tidal as something other than an oligarchic hustle when it primarily engages in oligarchic behavior. At this show, Damian Marley was introduced as “the newest artist-owner of Tidal” — the room shrugged. People generally don’t root for corporations.”