When celebrities gather, people pay attention. And the latest gathering of famous musicians, headed by Sean Carter (Jay Z), managed to get people’s attention for an event that wasn’t even about awards or performances. It was all about Tidal.
Tidal, the newest music streaming service, has been slowly trickling into our world for a while now. It was introduced worldwide in February, finally coming to Singapore in late February to go head-to-head with popular music services here like Spotify and Deezer.
From Tidal’s videos and Jay Z’s speeches, the music streaming service seems to have been born from frustrations from artists, who feel shortchanged by existing platforms. It was marketed as a sign that artists are taking the power of distribution back into their own hands, creating the hashtag #TIDALforALL.
But the launch seemed to get a lot of backlash, especially from people who have gotten used to existing platforms. People even created a counter-hashtag, #TIDALforNOONE, that has already begun to trend. Why? It’s backed by so many celebrities — some of whom also happen to be great musicians — so why wouldn’t we trust their judgement?
1. It’s Too Expensive
The problem that we identified in our last article about Tidal was the price — at S$29.99 a month (almost S$360 a year), the price of this music streaming service is so painful.
Tidal seems to be trying to justify their exorbitant prices by offering what they call lossless audio, which, for laymen like us, simply means CD quality. Which would sound pretty good, if Deezer wasn’t already offering the same at SGD19.99.
2. It’s Exactly Like Spotify
In response to the complaints about the price, Tidal began offering a lower tier ($9.99) for standard definition, which you can basically get at Spotify at any time for free (with ads). They do offer a one-month free trial, which allowed people a real look into Tidal. What people saw seems to be oddly familiar…
3. It Exudes A Superiority Complex
This seems to be the biggest point of contention out there. With Sean Carter at the helm, he has gathered some of the biggest artists out there to share equity with, like Madonna, Alicia Keys, Nicki Minaj, and Chris Martin from Coldplay, just to name a few. This means that the proceeds from these ‘premium prices’ will be making these multi-billionaires even richer.
This has sparked concerns that while Tidal claims to be all about supporting artists, the bulk of the money made from Tidal will end up going to people who already make tons of money from their music — when the people who need it most are new musicians struggling to make their name in the industry. The question most users will be asking will probably be: if we’re paying exhorbitant prices for music, how do we make sure that this money goes straight to the artist, instead of being split between Madonna, Nicki Minaj, and Kanye West?
Will Tidal make waves in Singapore?
With Tidal caught up in the whiplash from its introduction, it’s hard to say whether it will actually take off here in Singapore, much less in Southeast Asia. After all, Spotify’s biggest draw in Asia was its large cache of Asian artists — Jay Chou was the most streamed artist on Spotify in 2014, and still holds dominance in the Asian music scene. Asians are also a stingy bunch, and prices are more salient to us than to most people — a USD10 mark-up for us can be considered daylight robbery!
We tried to contact Spotify and Deezer about their opinion on Tidal, and this is what they had to say:
Spotify: “We’re not in the place to compare ourselves with other services — it’s purely for music fans to decide! We’re going to keep working with every artist to ensure all your favorite music is on Spotify.”
Deezer: “Tidal’s presence, along with other emerging developments in the high quality audio space, really validates the consumer need for High Definition Audio. We welcome these developments in the industry, as competition will only help create great offerings for music enthusiasts.”
What would probably happen is that Tidal will gather its own niche group of fans, but they’ll find it hard to knock down the current market leaders here in Southeast Asia. After all, other than Taylor Swift’s patronage, Tidal isn’t offering much else that we don’t already have.