It’s too soon to start writing that Jay Z’s music streaming service is doomed, but calling the past week of Tidal’s performance rocky would be an understatement.
Two weeks after Tidal was launched, the streaming service dropped from the top twenty most downloaded apps to below the 700 mark. If that wasn’t enough, Pandora and Spotify climbed back up to positions 3 and 4 on the U.S. iPhone revenue chart, respectively.
But it’s more than just ratings. Tidal’s CEO along with 25 other employees were fired after the launch. In addition, Kanye West –one of the partners of Tidal- has removed everything related to the service off of his twitter.
And just like how artists like Taylor Swift, Tom Yorke and many others have publicly criticized Spotify, artists began to share their criticisms of Tidal. Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard said in an interview with ‘The Daily Beast’ that he would’ve a streaming service alongside independent artists rather than celebrities.
“There was a wonderful opportunity squandered to highlight what this service would mean for artists who are struggling and to make a plea to people’s hearts and pocketbooks to pay a little more for this service that was going to pay these artists a more reasonable streaming rate,” Gibbard said. “And they didn’t do it.”
The campaign of supporting artists was not crystal clear for this exact reason. To elaborate, look at the catalogue on Spotify today. If all of the Tidal partners left Spotify like Taylor Swift did, then perhaps their message of supporting the artist may have come a bit more forward. However all of these artists are still on Spotify, which makes the whole project look insincere.
Tidal’s cost is another factor to consider when explaining Tidal’s problems. In fact, an assistant professor at the University of Virginia named David Touve did research on the prices of music streaming services according to his studies, the demand for a service increases the lower its pricepoint. In his research Touve found that the optimal price point for a service is about six dollars. At this moment, Tidal costs 20 dollars a month to use. That is marginally higher that Touve’s or Spotify’s price point, and not even the “Hifi” audio quality Tidal offers could sway consumers to make this pricy purchase.
The point is this. The fact that the moguls of music are advertising a higher priced form of streaming did not translate to the masses that Tidal was trying to support the industry. Rather, this campaign looked like a way for these stars to self-serve their own careers.