Last week saw Jay Z's TIDAL wave come crashing into the music-streaming marketplace.
The service, which has been available for a few months, had its official press launch on Monday evening. The event itself received much interest and was likened by some across social media as being akin to a charity single launch (with the artists themselves being the charity case), where as others continuously omg'd at what was an impressive line-up of some of the music industries biggest artists.
Alicia Keys kicked proceedings off, clearly excited about what lies ahead, talking about how TIDAL will deliver a place for artists and fans to connect, but will what Daft Punk labelled as The Avengers of the music industry really deliver on their promise?
The initial reaction seems to be overwhelmingly negative towards the platform that is jointly owned by Jay Z and his merry band of musicians, most of whom are worth well over $50m.
With many consumers making reference to the vast wealth these megastars already have, and scoffing at the £20 per month top tier package, although there is a £9.99 per month package offering lower quality sound.
The backlash was clearly not envisaged, and raises the question how did the artists, many of whom have their own brands, or are seen as brands in their own right, manage to get it so wrong?
One thing the TIDAL launch has certainly appeared to do is remind the masses of how separated music's elite are from their fans who adore them and the music they make. One of the main triggers for the negative reaction appears to be down to the way in which TIDAL appeared to dress itself up as revolutionary movement, when ultimately it is a capitalist venture.
The point that these musicians are trying to make certainly carries some weight; after all they do deserve to be remunerated for the work they produce, everyone does. But what will a platform controlled by artists mean for other artists? After all there is only so much music every person is able to consume. Would such an approach see independent artists struggle further to gain any recognition? Let alone get an opportunity to break into one of the most competitive industries on the planet.
TIDAL itself appears to be a good enough product, the sound quality is actually excellent, but the user interface appears to be very similar to Spotify. Which, when questioning the exploitation of your own work, seems like a questionable approach.
Ultimately, whilst Jay Z and his chums would have still received flak for saying they want to make more money, many people would have probably agreed that essentially this is something we all want to do, it's something that every company that continues to trade sets out to do. However to dress it up as a movement that will change the world appears to have been a very bad call.
Given that TIDAL is actually offering a service that some music fans will welcome, it appears in the excitement of their idea their communication strategy neglected someone very important indeed; the consumer. After all, their vision will remain exactly that, should nobody buy their product. Sure many people will subscribe to TIDAL; the names alone will pull in consumers. Will they attract enough subscribers to truly rival Spotify? Only time will tell. However consider TIDAL was created for artists, by artists, not for artists so that a select few artists can make some extra money. Surely that would have been a truly compelling offering.
You only have to look at the artists who make up the owners of TIDAL to see that apart from Jason Aldean they still have all of their work on Spotify, potentially suggesting this is not a moral high ground they are seeking, but a bigger bank balance. David Ogilvy's famous but simplistic reminder that " the consumer is not a moron", nor should they be treated like one, seems to have been forgotten in this instance. You only have to look at the strapline in TIDAL's promotional video to have this position certified: "Tidal puts the power back into the artists' hands". After all, it was the consumer who gave these artists their power in the first place...
TIDALS co-owners, only have to look at their industry peer Justin Timberlake and his involvement in Myspace, to see they have a lot of work on their hands, and that a simple press conference with Madonna straddling a desk will not suffice for the consumer to part with their all important £.
Read more of Jay Z's Billboard interview here.Suggest a correction