‘Tidal’ wave or crash?

Post by Johnno Wong & Veronica Sabo

Last year Jay Z purchased the company ‘Tidal’ for a reported $56 Million. This streaming company is a rival to Spotify however unlike others it does not provide a ‘free’ service which members can access music with adverts. Conversely, artists like Taylor Swift are pulling out from ‘free stream’ music companies and signing onto ‘Tidal’.

What is their reason? Purely to preserve the integrity of their music to combat their industry pressures of illegal downloads and losing profit to main stream sites. Jay Z has agreed to pay 75% royalties to the artists who sign onto the company which is above industry standards. One would argue that they make enough money already so what is the big deal? Surely the money make in records and endorsements alone would be enough? Would the profits from Tidal be a pinch of salt compared to how much money they make?

Artists such as Alicia Keyes,  Daft Punk , Rihanna, Beyonce, Madonna and others are relaying together to fit for their music. The company claims to offer higher sound quality music compared to its competitors, provides videos and insights into the creative genius of the artists along with tapping into the public’s sense of compassion for these artists whose music is being given for ‘free’ or illegally downloaded.

For the common day person who may not be an expert in music and sound quality – why would we pay for a streaming service when we could opt for a free option such as Spotify? Looking back in the history of music production one would have argued why one should buy records when you could listen to music for free on the radio or with the access to illegal downloads people would still buy CDs. However we find people are still willing to pay the price for high quality accessible music. The big question amongst this stream of questions is: Are the music lovers and music lay people of the world feel bad for these artists losing out amidst industry pressures or will we continue to opt for free means of streaming?


18 thoughts on “‘Tidal’ wave or crash?

  1. I can’t say that I personally use streaming music services like Spotify or tidal. However I do purchase music and other forms of media online through places like iTunes. I believe a particular portion of the population who seek out music, movies, software, games etc via online sites are willing to pay for these products. And when they pay for those products they expect to get good quality, good choice, timely content, and good service. As long as Tidal is providing a service that is suited to a proven segment of the market they will be competitive.

    In regards to those people in society who deem it ok to download or “share” music and media without paying for it, they will continue to do so. Unless the service is far superior to what they are able to attain for free, then services like Tidal will never appeal to these segment of consumers.

    The real question posed for a company such as Tidal, is how can they offer a superior service and product to that of other current companies already in this market ? If Tidal can analyse the market to determine where the gap in product / service is they can use this to help with their STP marketing.

    Artists in all forms of the media industry are susceptible to pirating / illegal sharing and downloading of their product, it seems like it will always be a part of the technological world we live in. Although recently one such company did win a legal battle against internet service providers here in Australia, requiring them to provide the information about their clients who illegally downloaded The Dallas Buyers Club. It is yet to be decided what the company will do in terms of the legal recourse against the individuals involved. Although it does point to the fact that these companies affected by the illegal distribution of their products are not going to sit back and do nothing.


  2. Music, just like any other salable thing, is a commodity. We never ask other commodity suppliers that they make huge money by selling their products so they should give a share of products as free. We pay for what we want to use/buy. Artists may make enough money by various other means but that does make downloading their art (music) from illegal means justified. So if they can protect their product by any means and make sure that those who are willing to pay for it should get the best service, there is nothing wrong in it.


  3. Definately the music lovers will love to pay the price for having a quality music or to show loyalty to their favourite singer/musician, but still the competition for tidal will not be with other companies selling music or in other words there will be no price competition, instead the competition will be of PRICE vs FREE. On one side the consumers can stream and download free music on other hand they have to pay for it. It has been shown by many academia that no offer if better than free or in other words the term free create a own market space for itself which is free of competition. If the tidal have to suceed they have to come up with secondary value to entice its customers to value their offering and pay for it the core of the offering that is, music will not go long way in the competition.


  4. A service like this cannot compete with the free option.
    Personally, i always download music, shows and movies online. Purchasing online through a service such as Spotify or Tidal gives you an intangible access to the file, meaning that there is no difference to the product the customer receives regardless of payment or downloading for free.

    Personally, i see an exception to this, because when i really like the music/show/movie i will purchase it. I like to have physical copies of things that i do like, and paying money for something i get to physically keep isn’t something that i mind doing. When you buy a CD or DVD you often get additional benefits such as bonus tracks, posters etc. It also gives you unlimited and permanent access to the file, ensuring that you only have to pay one once-off price for it.

    For something like Tidal to be effective, i think it needs to offer something new and unique to the customer to convince their purchase. There needs to be a differentiation between the free option and the paid option, because at the moment you end up with the same product.


  5. An interesting blog and subject.. I watched the whole tidal thing come and go and fortunately didn’t get wet!

    As with some of the other comments, I’m not convinced that this is going to go very far. Over time I have progressed away from artists and began to follow genres, be it classical or from a particular part of the world, so whilst the artist is still important for the story and ability, I really think tailored radio has the real potential to put both music and artist ‘back in its box’ for the future!

    Undoubtedly there are die hard fans out there that love their artists and nothing is more evident than that of fans scaring themselves at the departure of a One Direction band member.. And undoubtedly if Tidal were to have exclusive rights to distribute new music from the beloved artists then it will begin to gain a critical mass.

    Realistically though I see this as nothing more that a ploy by artists; for artists, to retain furthermore the disproportionate amounts of money that they receive for making and singing a song..

    To draw a fair comparison, Tidal is to Spotify as Google+ is to facebook and Twitter..

    Tidal is for the benefit of the Music Artists..

    Google+ is for the benefit of Google Staff!

    But only time will tell…..


  6. Do I feel sorry for the big artists because people are able to listen to their music free on Spotify? Certainly not. Artist like Rihanna are comparable to a company with a specific product offering. Maybe they see that their core product is suffering – the actual music – is suffering from reduced margin, but their managers together with a clever marketing and PR have found ways to deal with that buy selling a number of other products. Think of all the Rihanna T-Shirts, perfumes etc.. Moreover, artists like Rihanna are making a lot of money by doing advertisements for various products.These artists no longer rely on the proceeds from their music for their income. They have seen the changes coming and diversified their product portfolio.


  7. Firstly this is a very interesting topic and one that many people have a moral dilemma about. I personally believe that we should pay for the music that we want because as someone else mentioned we generally pay for everything else that we want that does not belong to us. However with that said pricing is everything, in Australia we already have to pay more on iTunes for songs compared to America, why wouldn’t I want to get the song free if that is the case.
    With cost of living increasing everyone is looking for ways to save and if they don’t have to pay for something then they wont.


  8. I agree with the post above – we should be paying for “products” no matter how we access them, whether it be a physical copy or the electronic version, the copyright owner deserves their royalty. And it shouldn’t matter if these artists are in fact making money from other product lines such as perfumes – it is their business. It has become such an issue my 15 yo was doing a school assignment on the rights and wrongs of illegal down-loading last year. But I expect that illegal down-loading will continue so long as people can access the content. The internet still has to “catch up” to avoid such exploitation.

    On the other hand – I do object as a consumer to having to pay more to down load an album – for example – compared to our American counterparts. I could understand a price differential when there are distribution costs such as shipping to be covered, but not when a product is being down-loaded. That seeming unfairness probably does drive a lot of illegal down-loads and Australia I understand does have one of the highest illegal down-loading rates in the world. In a sense, right or wrong, illegal down-loads are going some way to levelling the paying field – pun intended – sorry 🙂


  9. I have mixed thoughts about Tidal. On the one hand, yes I feel it is only morally right that we consumers pay for whatever products we wish to purchase, and I feel it is unfair for music artists who put in a great deal of work and expense and then have people download their music for free. But then Tidal seems to be offering a “service” only, i.e. giving the consumer the ability to stream music. But unlike itunes, where you can download music and listen to it without any restrictions, tidal requires you to have an internet connection. Once you stop paying your monthly subscription, you no longer have access to any of the music. I don’t think the majority of users would care much about higher quality songs. Instead I think the customers they win over from Spotify won’t be converting to Tidal because of the better sound quality, but more out of solidarity for the artists.


  10. I agree with bibhav, mgitongs & Lynette – the music is the artists product & we are morally & legally obligated to pay for it. Why is pirating any different to shoplifting or fare evading? Prodcuts & services cost money to produce & deliver them, and someone has to pay for that. The money the artists make is irrelevant, why is the “pirate” entitled to the money & not the person who created it? For example, people who brought back illegally copied poor quality cds & dvds from Bali before online streaming & downloading was a thing. Not every artist is a Taylor Swift or Rihanna & making miilions from their music, products & advertsing deals. Think unknown local acts or even new artists who are just breaking out.


  11. people might pay for music steaming online but, i don’t think people will pay for all the artists they will pay only for a bunch of their favorite artists. so, i think that the company might not have a large market share as all people wont buy music if they get it for free.


  12. In order for people to pay they will have to have excellent sound quality, continue to have no ads and run the site really well. They will probably need to run an Amazon-like personalised service. It will be interesting to see how it goes.


  13. I think the big mistake in ‘Tidal’s marketing approach has been the focus on the artists- and not the consumers. As a consumer of music I watched that video and thought – what’s in it for me?


  14. Be it my generation, but I am still listening to the same music I many years ago. Whenever I hear a song on the radio and say ‘new song’ – my teenage daughter usually says ‘No, its soooo old’ (then finding out it was released six weeks ago). So I am not the target market and I am not going to pay $9.95 minimum per month to listen to music. But I do see the real challenge faced by artists today with file sharing. But then I reflect, they need to adapt. Marketing is more important today for artists, they can no longer rely on just their musical talent.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Pricing for artists, particularly those in the music industry, have always been a largely debatable topic.

    As the days of buying CDs and records are slowly phasing its way out and the arguably unhealthy option of illegally/downloading for free is on the rise, the question of whether we – as consumers – are willing to pay for songs comes into question often.

    As artists, however, we understand that it is their livelihood we are playing with when we access their work for free.

    As consumers, however, we critically assess the value of paying i.e. 99c (or $1, realistically) for one song (10 songs = $10). This song can/will be played over and over, sure, but is it worth that dollar? Why not save that dollar – or the collective amount spent on buying music – and buy something that’ll last longer or garner more return (i.e. food, material items, services such as massages). There is also the ongoing impression that artists – especially those of celebrity status – are particularly well to do. As a result, streaming their music feels like it wouldn’t hurt them as much as paying x amount for their music from a working class individual. (I.e. South Park episode on illegal streaming, particularly criticism/satire on Lars Ulrich – Metallica’s drummer who sued Napster in the early 2000s – and his apparent “losses” over downloads).

    Artists need to evolve and adapt to market themselves in a manner in consumers feel compelled to purchase their work. Suggestions on how this can be done can be R&D’d through several outlets – i.e. branching out into another industry such as fashion and riding on music reputation, establishing music production companies, “free gift” of explicit relevance to album with album purchase or exclusively produced albums such as Metallica’s Enter Sandman artwork which required the purchase of two (of the same album) to be put next to one another for collectors purposes.


  16. Buying music is following in the footsteps of buying movies. I don’t see Tidal being successful in the slightest. The producers have thought solely about the music artists as oppose to its consumers, which in my opinion is the most important.

    Spotify offers free music with advertisements after every other song, or consumers could pay a monthly subscription and conveniently get rid of adds and gain other neat little perks. It’s been thought out much better and has clearly done it’s research as to what people want and need.

    People don’t want nor need the highest music quality. A lot of people can’t actually even hear the difference in normal and high quality sound unless they’re listening with the latest high quality headphones.


  17. I believe Tidal’s pricing strategy is fair and its approach to differentiate itself from its competition by providing high quality audio streaming will be seen by the market as something that is worth paying extra for. It will all relate back to what the buyer sees as ‘good value’. If you just spent $8,000 on a new audio system, you wouldn’t be too happy with the quality of standard services such as Spotify.


  18. Radio was always used as an advertising technique to draw consumers into their music so they would buy the record or cd. I still prefer this technique as being sort of a try before you buy option, as I have been hurt quite a few times by buying a cd because I love the band. I try to stay loyal to the same bands and if they release a new cd I want to support it as I want my money to go to the artist.


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