Awhile back, Jay-Z and a glitterati of the music industry’s richest artists announced the launch of their “revolutionary” new streaming platform, TIDAL. Its launch was greeted by skepticism by some, and by others it was praised as the next big thing in music streaming. Despite its lofty ideals though, it’s failed to come even close to living up to expectations. Its clunky mobile app, lack of desktop functionality, and limited library of offerings all haven’t been enough to motivate consumers to ditch Spotify’s freemium service.
In the wake of this, we’ve seen key players abandon ship. Kanye West deleted all of his Tweets that had praised the service, Drake (after a round of negotiations) ditched TIDAL for Apple Music, and the company has lost not one, but two CEOs in just the last few months. Originally, Aspiro (TIDAL’s parent company) let go of CEO Andy Chen along with 25 other employees, citing a need for “a better understanding of the industry and a clear vision for how the company is looking to change the status quo.” Now, their interim Chief Peter Tonstad is out, alleged by many to have straight-up quit the job.
With Apple Music making headlines as the heir-apparent to Spotify, it’s starting to feel like TIDAL is officially the odd-man out in the world of music streaming. Each competitor brings something to the table: Spotify carries a free option and a cheap premium service, while Apple Music offers their entire library (which is enormous) along with a three month free trial. TIDAL on the other hand charges for all of its tiers of service, pays out approximately the same royalties to its artists as their competition, and has a vastly smaller offering of music. What was billed as something that would change the face of streaming forever has proven itself to be more a mirage than anything.
Perhaps the final nail in the proverbial coffin was hammered in by Apple Music too. In the days leading into its June 30 debut, the service signed on thousands of indie labels, bringing huge artists like Adele and Arctic Monkeys into the fold. Factor in their industry-standard 71.5% royalty rate, and suddenly it’s clear that TIDAL is obsolete. All this isn’t even considering the fact that if Jay-Z’s negotiations with Sony go as pear-shaped as they appear to be, he’ll lose the right to include even his own wife Beyoncé’s music as an offering of his streaming service.
All of it adds up to an idealistic idea executed by enough ego to fill the volume of Jupiter. Go back and watch the launch video, where Jay-Z and his richest friends sit around a table patting themselves on the back for figuring out a way to make themselves richer. In it, they claim to stand for eliminating the middleman, but in the end the people who get paid will still be the labels that own artists. Nothing has been as-advertised, and this very fact is what’s sinking TIDAL into the depths of the music streaming ocean.
Apple Music launches in just under a week, and Spotify is valued at $8 billion. With this being so, there’s simply no room for a service as dysfunctional as TIDAL to exist in this market, no matter how many of Jay-Z’s friends think they’re somehow making history. Simply put, while streaming is the future of music consumption, TIDAL is almost certainly not going to be a part of it.
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