Maybe you’ve heard of a relatively unknown artist named Jay Z dropping his 13th studio album ‘4:44’ a couple of weeks ago. If you have, chances are a good portion of you weren’t able to listen to it. And why’s that? Because ‘4:44’ was made as a Tidal exclusive, meaning it was only available to their subscribers. So for the majority of us that don’t stream music, or use other platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, or Google Play, we had to wait a full week later until it was available to the rest of the public (except Jay Z doesn’t like Spotify so they’ll never get it). Picture it like watching a wild party happening every day knowing you won’t be able to join it for a full week. The question is: is that desire enough for you to pay for entry? Do you need to listen to something so bad immediately that you’re willing to pay for a monthly Tidal membership, or can you simply wait the full week?
That would be easy to answer if the album wasn’t trending on Twitter with a plethora of different lyrics being tweeted out and solved as if they were written in code. This right here creates FOMO. Tidal hopes that creating FOMO is enough to bring you over to their side.
Reading y'all Jay Z lyric tweets, tryna imagine how the songs sound, since I don't have tidal. pic.twitter.com/05yC7Dmac8
— DR€W (@yalljust_myfans) June 30, 2017
Me Reading people's tweets about the new Jay Z Album pic.twitter.com/eSOa3WUSdx
— 2017 AFRICA (@2017AFRICA) June 30, 2017
SO does this work? It’s too early to tell as 4:44 was just recently released, but we can take it back to last year when Kanye West released ‘The Life of Pablo’, a Tidal exclusive. It was reported that Tidal subscribers jumped from 1 Million to 2.5 Million after its release. Keep in mind that this was during a time when a 3 month free trial was being made available, but it would still be a major success if they could retain half of those new members.
Tidal has positioned themselves as that too cool for school club that attracts new users through exclusive content. This is through concerts, video, new music, playlists, etc. With that being said, they still only have 3 million users while Apple Music and Spotify carry over 20 million users respectively. So why isn’t this working for them? This exclusive strategy works just about everywhere else from clothing, tech, automotive, and more.
The issue starts from the product and the way its presented. Tidal has rubbed people the wrong way from the start with their botched product launch. Back in 2015 the service was presented as the second coming of christ. A group of top tier and very wealthy musicians where speaking about how the other streaming services do not pay the artists enough and that Tidal is the solution with their pricing model that was twice that of their competitors.
This right here is a brand and audience disconnect.
I truly believe that this is where Tidal went wrong. At first you could say that Spotify had too large of a grasp on the music streaming market. However, Apple Music launched after Tidal and they have done exceptionally well, so there goes that argument. Exclusive content drives sales when people like the brand and the product. Apple Music offers tons of exclusive albums such as Drake’s ‘More Life’ which broke a streaming record with 300 million worldwide streams in its first week. The service also carries exclusive radio shows with Beats 1.
Will 4:44 bump up Tidal’s subscribers? Sure, but as a service they need to come up with a way to increase subscribers aside from waiting on one of their big name artists to release an exclusive album. If not, they’ll be chasing the likes of Apple, Spotify, and Google forever. What do you guys think? Are you motivated to sign up for a service just to be one of the first ones to use on of their products?
Dakarai is an ambitious professional with a passion for advertising and marketing, and is currently employed as an account coordinator for an ad agency in Toronto. When he’s not at the office, he’s most likely trying out a new restaurant, browsing AdWeek, or binge watching something on Netflix. Dakarai, but you can call him Dak. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and connect with him on LinkedIn.