So… Before we dive into this list of why Tidal is destined to fail. I must start by saying that I’m a paying subscriber and as such I have every right to review and critique what I’m paying for. Now lets get started with WHY Tidal is going to fail.
1.Music Has Become a Commodity
Technology has allowed anyone with a dream of being a star the opportunity to pursue it. There are literally millions of Artists releasing singles, albums, EPs and mixtapes. iTunes now has over 25 Million Tracks in its library. Even if only 10% of that was for genres that you liked and only 10% of that was music that matched your taste, that’s still 250,000 Songs vying for your attention.
2. People are cheap
Consumers are hooked on free music. The RIAA estimated that only 37% of music is consumed legally. We live in a paradigm of FREEMIUM. Give me what you got (Game, Service, Music) and I may spend money later to enhance the experience (Level Ups, Ad Free Version, Merchandise/Ticket Sales).
3. Nobody cares about audio quality
Contrary to the sales of Beats Audio, we are not a nation of audiophiles. We listen to music on the radio through factory installed speakers. We listen to MP3s encoded at as low as 96kbps on earbuds bought from Walmart. (I personally care more about how comfortable they are to wear than how great they sound). While we may know that higher bit depth and sample rates are better, how many of us can perceivably tell the difference between 44.1k and 48k.
4. Nobody cares about artists making more money
We have a huge problem with homelessness in America and a minimum wage that allows people to subsist below the poverty line. To think people would pay double for a streaming service behind the concept of “Save the Artists” like they’re some kind of endangered species is ridiculous.
5. No Chromecast
With over 10 Million units sold and 450+ apps supporting it, You would think that a cutting edge streaming service such as TIDAL would naturally support Chromecast. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. Having to stream Jay-Z’s B-Sides concert to my laptop then casting the window from Chrome to Chromecast led to me just eventually watching on my computer.
6. Jay-Z’s biggest oversight with launching Tidal:
He’s not white. All the previous points mentioned could have been easily forgiven if only he had the complexion of success. Less than a week after the launch of Tidal, business and tech blogs eviscerated the service as if silicon valley itself wanted to pull Jay-Z aside and say “Ohh Shawn, you can’t own a music streaming service. Our people will never trust you and your people will never support you.” Racism is alive and well in America and Silicon Valley is just as segregated as the South under Jim Crow. Before you cry foul, I seem to recall no backlash when Justin Timberlake took an ownership stake in the $35 Million acquisition of Myspace (Once valuated at over $500 Million). I’m sure many of you never even heard of GhostTunes, that’s the iTunes competitor founded by Garth Brooks. The point I’m making is, Power preserves itself.
So here’s the point…. Tidal is far from perfect but having been a paying user of Google Music and Spotify, I ask you what streaming service is? They all do nearly the same thing. Some may tout a larger library of music but at the end of the day they just spin records [*in my Bernie Mac voice*]. The level of scrutiny that Tidal has received is totally disproportionate to its market position.
Power preserves itself. With all of the major labels having huge stakes in competing streaming services, there is no place for a rogue (artist owned) alternative. Jay-Z is a good rapper but a great business man. He is a threat to the status quo. He’s been mocked before for moving into new sectors and discounted as just a rapper. Roc Nation Sports launched and was met with similar ridicule from established agencies but within two years accumulated close to $1 Billion in Contracts and Endorsement deals, including a historic endorsement deal with Nike for $300 Million. Who knows what Tidal has up its sleeves?