Tidal, a new premium streaming service helmed by Jay-Z, arrived yesterday with a star-studded press conference in Manhattan. Jay-Z, who brought the Scandinavian lossless streaming service for a reported $56 million, firmly believes in Tidal’s power to disrupt the music industry, but the initial reaction so far has been largely skeptical, if not downright hostile. Yet Tidal may still stand a chance.
First and foremost, Tidal has gained the support of musicians and music creators alike by putting the artists’ benefits before record labels. Jay-Z used his industry clout to get a long list of A-list stars—the one percent of music industry—to get on board. Those big-name performers form the core branding, and the celebrity aura they bring to the service will draw music fans to it.
Furthermore, the streaming model has made it almost frictionless to switch between services. Since these music creators control the content, should they choose to play hardball, they could easily pull a “Taylor Swift” and yank their catalogue off free-to-use streaming service like Spotify, pushing fans who has grown used to streaming music to pay up when there’s no more free options available.
Last but not least, there have been precedents for a price-sensitive market suddenly disrupted by masterfully marketed premium products. A recent example is how Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine successfully convinced millions of consumers that their basic white iPod earbuds weren’t good enough. Like Beats, Tidal might just find a way to make high-fidelity audio cool and upsell music streaming subscriptions.
Head image taken from tidalhifi.com