Will Tidal make waves?
2 April 2015 by Ashton Carter
On Tuesday night, the music streaming service TIDAL was re-launched by some of the most famous musicians in the world. Though the service was originally launched in October 2014, its parent company was recently bought by Project Panther Bidco Ltd which is owned by none other than Jay-Z himself.
TIDAL is a music streaming service set to compete with the likes of Spotify, as well as similar services being launched by Apple and Google in the near future. However, TIDAL’s business structure is unique in that it is owned by the artists themselves. This is a symbolic move to counter competing services where it is felt that artists have no control over how their music is distributed. Attending TIDAL’s re-launch event this week was Beyonce, Kanye West, Madonna, Rihanna and many more, all of whom were credited as being co-owners of TIDAL.
TIDAL currently offers 25 million music tracks, which is approximately £5 million fewer than some of its competitors, and has a standard subscription fee of £9.99 per month compared to its main competitor Spotify which offers packages from free to £7.99 per month, an amount which already receives criticism for being overpriced.
Subscribers can alternatively opt for a £19.99 service which offers “lossless” audio. This is a higher level of sound quality which has a bitrate of 1,411kbit/s – which makes the 320kbit/s that premium Spotify users receive look meagre in comparison. However, experts have questioned whether subscriber’s internet connections would be sufficient for the lossless audio to be operational and even whether the average user would really be able to tell the difference anyway. While paying for this higher quality of lossless audio is optional, there is no free service similar to the one offered by Spotify which is likely to cause issues amongst the music-loving public.
A second unique point is the fact that it is artist-owned with Jay-Z touting the benefits of greater royalties. Again though there is a counter argument of whether this is in fact just the rich getting richer while the majority of artists see no benefit.
Despite offering fewer tracks and requiring a subscription, Jay-Z still has high hopes for success and has been actively promoting the enhanced sound quality offered by tracks available within TIDAL. One strategy which he aims to introduce is to encourage record labels to release their music to TIDAL a week or more before competing services. It is hoped that this window of exclusivity will be sufficient to ensure consumers are willing to pay the required subscription fees. However this decision will come down to the record labels themselves, as they are the ones with ultimate control over how their music is released. Furthermore, many avid fans will be happy to wait a week in order to access the newly-released music for a much cheaper overall price.
Whether or not TIDAL’s attempt to separate themselves from their competition is successful is yet to be seen. However, if you need any advice on diversifying your business or obtaining intellectual property rights to protect your unique ideas, please contact our Corporate and Commercial Department on 01245 584515 or [email protected]
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