Even with the heavyweight lineup Jay Z presented for the relaunch of Tidal, it looks like the music streaming service is off to a slow start, dropping out of the top 700 apps on the iTunes and Google Play App Store in the US, and out of the top 500 on the UK app stores.
Tidal went after services like Spotify, Rdio and Deezer, all offering a freemium model to customers. Jay Z and several other artists claim this model is not rewarding musicians with enough money, leading to several artists like Taylor Swift, Adele and Coldplay leaving the service.
Instead, Tidal offers a £10 per month option or £20 per month option with CD-quality audio. This is similar to Spotify’s own premium model, but instead of only a quarter of users paying for it, all users on Tidal must pay something.
That has not brought in many users, even with the one-month free trial. Not only has the public reaction to Tidal been quite negative, but other artists like Knife Party’s Rob Swire, Lily Allen and Mumford & Sons have been critical of the service.
"We don’t want to be part of some Tidal 'streaming revolution' nor do we want to be Taylor Swift and be anti-[streaming]. I don’t understand her argument, either. The focus is slightly missed," Mumford & Sons guitarist Winston Marshall said in an interview with The Daily Beast. "Music is changing. It’s f***ing changing. This is how people are going to listen to music now - streaming."
At the heart of artist’s issues with Tidal is the fact Jay Z and others at the VIP event claimed this was in the public and music industry’s best interests, when realistically outside of the 16 “co-owners” of Tidal, the business model is exactly the same as Spotify’s own.
The only difference is due to Tidal’s meagre 50,000 subscribers, artists moving from Spotify to Tidal are going to see a massive revenue dip. Some artists do not seem to care about the revenue dip however, due to Spotify’s poor rates for revenue per song listen.
Interestingly, throughout this whole kerfuffle between Spotify and Tidal, YouTube has walked away unscathed. No artist apart from Prince and a few other loonies are staying away from YouTube - even with the launch of the Music Key for £7.99, a cheaper streaming option than Spotify or Tidal.
This is in part due to YouTube’s video content being the primary reason to use the service, also bringing in more revenue per user. Unlike Spotify, YouTube also has the backing of Google, who can afford to dip in the red to keep artists happy.
Whether Tidal will ever hit back into the top 700 in the iTunes chart is questionable, especially considering Apple is preparing to relaunch Beats Music, another music streaming service intent on exclusive albums and no freemium model.