Tidal: Lemons Into Lemonade


In a further fragmentation of the growing streaming market, Beyonce has released new ‘visual album’ Lemonade exclusively on Tidal following the premiere of a TV special on HBO.

The album is essentially a series of music videos, featuring the likes of Jack White, Diplo, James Blake, Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd. This week, the release resulted in Tidal shooting up the chart of the most downloaded free iOS apps in the US and become the third highest-grossing iOS music app in the US behind Spotify at number one and Pandora at number two. Tidal also experienced a further bump in users following the tragic death of Prince, aged 57 on April 21st. The service is famously now the only streaming site to feature Prince’s music.

The Gen must ask: Is all this enough to save Tidal, as it ‘terminates’ executives and its original owners are reportedly sued by Jay Z for misrepresenting the service’s performance and reach?

A further complication – following the pattern of Kanye West’s ‘The Life of Pablo, Lemonade is already top of the piracy charts on both Kick Ass Torrents (KAT) and The Pirate Bay (TPB) according to Music Business Worldwide.

An industry ‘insider’ told Mashable that the Beyonce exclusive is permanent but of course ‘The Life of Pablo’ was initially pitched in the same way by Kanye, going on to appear on other major streaming services several weeks ago.

The Beyonce album is also available to buy on Amazon and iTunes.

Confused? If so, you can bet that the average consumer yet to convert to paying for streaming is, which raises the question of how damaging exclusives and windowing are to the entire eco system.

Spotify’s global head of communications and public policy Jonathan Prince certainly thinks so, commenting: “We believe long-term exclusives are bad for artists and they’re bad for fans. Artists want as many fans as possible to hear their music, and fans want to hear the music they’re excited about – exclusives get in the way of both. Of course, we understand that short promotional exclusives are common, we don’t have a total policy against them, and we certainly respect the choice of artists to decide what’s right for them”.

Duration is the crucial point here – we can all understand and handle a little windowing but surely, the promise of streaming to the casual consumer is access to most music out there at a reasonable price point? The Gen appreciates that Tidal must take lemons and try to make lemonade, but this is sending people back to piracy- a circular move indeed considering that streaming was supposed to be the holy grail that pushed people from the Pirate Bay to paying for music again.

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