Putting your own issues before your audience
Late last month Tidal launched its music streaming service with a star-studded presentation. The ownership group of Tidal is lead by Jay-Z, and a collection of high-profile artists who each have a smaller, equal stake in the company. The artists said they joined Tidal to help artists achieve better compensation in streaming and distribution contracts related to their music. They even signed a pact as part of the presentation.
To summarize the announcement from Tidal - subscribing to Tidal will be great for the people who own Tidal. Rumor has it things aren’t going so well at Tidal so far.
Perhaps a better way to roll out this service would have been an announcement that was relevant to consumers. Maybe communicate how Tidal addresses issues users have with current streaming services. Improved discovery, a superior mobile experience, smarter social integration, quality of sound files – something Tidal actually offers.
Instead they mostly focused on artist’s rights. A subject important to each of them but not as much to most consumers. They painted themselves as a sort of underdog, but against a foe invisible to most consumers. Maybe that is truly the reason for which they joined the company, but it doesn’t explain why it is worth it for a consumer to switch, or provide a meaningful reason for most consumers to consider doing so. At twice the cost of competitors it’s pretty important to present a reason why, or at least communicate in a premium tone.
They could have demonstrated this value just by announcing that this collection of the top artists is going to provide exclusive music and content that will be found only on Tidal. This alone would have been compelling to consumers.
Brand positioning for artists and listeners alike
Given the star power they were able to assemble for the announcement, it seems they squandered the opportunity by focusing in on the meandering lecture/document signing. A simpler and more effective way to celebrate the artists during launch would be a concert. People would have tuned in for, and not tuned out of the entire thing and the point would be hammered home. ALL THESE ARTISTS ARE HERE NOW.
And on top of a simple stream, media channels would have likely partnered or paid to air it. Or better yet, promote it beforehand and stream it exclusively on Tidal.com.
But they didn’t. They claimed to be founding this company to stand up for artists. If writing the story on behalf of the artists community, why focus solely on the names at the top? It is extremely hard for most people to feel that Madonna is underpaid, or care enough to pay twice what they pay for Rdio. If that is the true benefit, why not highlight a few lesser-known artists and talk about how Tidal will benefit them instead of a group who sits atop the current establishment? At least in that case Tidal makes an emotional appeal on how product choice aids fledgling artists.
This proud group stood up for artist’s rights and better compensation for those who create original art, which is great. Take a minute and look at side by side comparisons of key screens and interaction points of Tidal and Spotify. Do you think they’re sending a royalty check to Spotify, or negotiated some fair use fees? Me either, but they are charging twice the cost for a nearly identical interface.
I stream music all day. I have tested every platform and approach to the idea of streaming music that I have seen or read about. While the issue of fair compensation for artists is of interest to me, I am not prepared to go on strike to address it. I haven’t been looking for a service that is built to solve that problem. I’m looking for the best experience at a cost that makes sense for me - the customer.
I imagine you have a similar outlook. This is why sports fans don’t universally cheer for the team with the highest payroll, regardless of outcomes. When the Yankees lose, the stadium is half empty. It seems Jay-Z has miscalculated peoples’ feelings about the music industry, and definitely failed to meet the market with Tidal.