By Sergio Claudio
On Monday, the world awoke to disrupted social streams courtesy of a new music app from Jay Z and friends called “Tidal.”
“We’re starting a revolution… change your avatar to blue in support. #TidalForAll!”
Instantly, all the cool kids were joining in. News spread that Kanye, Rihanna, Daft Punk, and Madonna joined the movement. For the musically curious, it was definitely worth a look (campaign mission accomplished).
To my utter disappointment, Tidal is yet another streaming music service that belongs in the “me, too” category of the app store. Claiming to be the ultimate listening experience with its revolutionary Hi-Fi streaming, the app adds hardly anything to the streaming space and comes off as a direct Spotify clone. And with a $20-per-month price tag (or $9/mo for standard definition), Tidal is basically telling fans to leave their tried and true streaming music experience for a nearly exact duplicate at double the price, because, why, HOV said so? (Oh by the way, the app and campaign were founded so that the multi-platinum artists can make more money? Jigga please.)
I’ve asked myself why I care so much. Admittedly, my reaction caught me off guard, but it must be driven by my inner-marketer. It’s hard to believe that a “business maaaaaaan” and his team of high-powered celebs would blow their influential load of social influence on a campaign for an app that does nothing new. And, furthermore, bastardizing a social strategy that has been effective for causes that people truly believe in, to try and force some prosthetic story about unity and Revolution down our throats all to support an app that is made to… make them more money? I call bullshit, and so did the rest of the Internet.
The Twittersphere quickly launched its digital tomatoes at the lackluster press conference that boasted a “follow me” celebrity lineup and awkward silences. With a keynote address from Alicia Keys replete with fluffy aspirational platitudes and misplaced Nietzsche quotes, the Tidal team made their attempt to rally the masses around a music concept designed to benefit the rich and famous while offering nothing of true value to their users. What were they thinking, that people will buy anything if they put their names on it? Now I’m sure there are those who can make the same argument about Dr. Dre and his Beats brand, but the difference is that people can get behind the idea that somewhere the good Dr. has “been in the lab with a pen and a pad” while wearing those headphones, or at least headphones with the same technology.
It’s all about the storytelling, the brand narrative, and the fact that people believe in brands that portray an image of some form of authenticity. While Jay may believe that he can sell water to a whale, when his pitch blatantly says “because you drinking this water will make me more money,” those whales would probably rather drink sand instead.
The lesson here is that we are living in a user-driven world where brands speak to more sophisticated, informed consumers. If you’re going to come out guns blazing with this much star power, do something that is going to disrupt the industry in a big way. Do something that truly flips the industry on its head. Create new music that will be licensed to platforms rather than pushed through distributors and labels. Release new albums for these influential artists exclusively on this platform. Come through with some serious innovation and fans will gladly pause their Spotify playlists to hear what you have to offer.
Otherwise, you’re just insulting their intelligence, and the Internet will respond by drowning your message in meme-worthy posts and illuminati propaganda.