Tidal’s a Sinking Ship. Here’s Why.

Complex News recently reported that Jay-Z’s supposedly revolutionary streaming service Tidal, launched at the end of March, is tanking. Kanye West even pulled his tweets concerning Tidal from his Twitter, changing his avatar from the Tidal logo back to George Condo’s artwork for My Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy. There was such a huge promotional push for Tidal, including personal phone calls from Jay-Z himself if you signed up as a subscriber. So, what gives? These music industry superstars were going to change music as we know it.

Superficially, Tidal is no different from Spotify. In fact, if you put the two side by side, the aesthetics and layout are eerily similar. It’s hard to find a music-lover today who doesn’t use Spotify. It’s easy to use, syncs across all of your devices, and gives you access to an entire world of music (and can do it without ads for a reasonable subscription fee every month). Tidal, for the most part, does the same. If you’re willing to pay a little more per month, you get high-fidelity audio, peerless streaming, which was Tidal’s major selling point. Unfortunately, peerless quality isn’t going to sound very different to the average listener who’s using Apple’s cheap white headphones. It’s going to sound great for a specific subset of audiophiles who will pay that much for peerless audio and state-of-the-art headphones, those who will notice a difference in quality. Unfortunately, that’s a small subset as compared with the rest of the music world.  That said, Tidal’s major selling point and target demographic are a fantastically small percentage of all music listeners. The advertising is just all wrong if Tidal’s hoping to attract the average listener. In the end, there’s nothing about Tidal that’s going to steal Spotify customers away because the product is essentially the same.

Tidal, likewise, promises a fair treatment of its artists, which is nothing to overlook. Spotify’s treatment of artists is abysmal, but we have to be honest and realize that it’s exceedingly difficult to make money off of internet streaming if you’re an artist, and as an artist you need to weigh the benefits of dissemination of your music against the paltry amount of profit you’ll make. There’s really no good solution to be had because whichever way you sway, at least one side of the battle is going to be upset with how the money’s being spread. Tidal was supposed to change that. That’s why the promo video came with shots of a superhero underground meeting with the titans of the music world, promising change. It’s great, and it’s a wonderful idea, but it’s not going to be enough to sway the public toward a switch to Tidal. It’s unfortunate to admit, but Spotify has been such a reliable product for customers that there would have to be a major reason for them to switch, and change for artists isn’t enough for the average listener.

When it comes to these kinds of music streaming battles, Dave Grohl seems to have the most logical opinion: “You want people to listen to your music? Give them your music.” At the end of the day, listeners just want access to the music they love. Streaming services have made that easier for the average listener in the past few years, and it’s easier than ever to discover new bands with “explore” features on streaming services, so it’s going to take a lot to shake up the system currently in place. Tidal doesn’t change enough, and that’s the problem. It’s just another streaming service, for the most part. And if Kanye’s pulling his support on his Twitter, Tidal’s most likely doomed to sink.

Image from Tidal Facebook.

1 Comment

  1. Lauren Silvestri

    April 23, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    I totally agree with you! I also was turned off by yet another streaming service, especially one promoted by multi-millionaires. I don’t think it’s as much of a fair treatment of artists like they promised.

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