Streaming Services: Why Apple Music, Spotify & TIDAL are still in the game, and why they still have competition

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Streaming music has hit a breaking point.  The market has populated, and now we’re all waiting with baited breath to see who is going to come out on top and who is inevitably going to fall behind.  I wanted to address the major players and pin point what they’ve done well to get them in the game, where they’ve made some mistakes, and what might’ve saved them some trouble.

Apple Music

 

Win: Taylor Swift

 

Because everyone wants to secretly jam out to ‘Shake It Off.”  I’ll admit that I fall in the category of people that wants to listen to Taylor Swift but doesn’t care quite enough to buy her album, so I would love to be able to stream it.  Tay-Tay is a force to be reckoned with, and who knows how they were able to get her on board, but what a massive win.

 

Win: 3 Month Free Trial

 

People aren’t likely to abandon Spotify for only 30 days.  If you’re trying to get someone to switch to your service, you need a big offer to entice them.  90 days will do the trick.

 

Loss: Still ripping off artists during free trial

 

Yes, they decided to pay artists during the free trial period, but at a lower rate than a paid account.  While still a step in the right direction, also still a slap in the face to artists

 

Loss: Last to the game

 

Apple has 11M users now, but what happens after the trial period ends?  Have they convinced enough people to stay?

TIDAL

 

Win: More Royalties to artists

 

Did you know that TIDAL is actually foregoing profits to make sure that artists are compensated fairly?  In a strange economy for an indie artist, this is respectable.

 

Win: Innovative Integration

 

Did you also know that TIDAL integrates with live events to further the experience?  For instance, some lucky TIDAL members were treated to a free Jay-Z show in NYC awhile back.  Something no other streaming service has done, and something that truly transforms the fan experience.

 

Loss: Epic Marketing fail (this counts as about a million losses)

 

The thing is, you probably didn’t know about these two cool things TIDAL does because they didn’t tell anyone.  All they did was throw up a bunch of celebs on a stage and say, “You should do this because we said so.  Now watch us sign this piece of paper.”  To which the fans responded, “You’re all filthy rich – why should I support you?”

 

If you’re going to support indie artists, having a stage full of THEM would have gotten you much further.  If a struggling artist came forward with a story about how TIDAL has helped support them, given them more royalties, and benefitted them and their fans, that would’ve been a story I could get behind.  I had to hunt to find out for sure what TIDAL was paying artists.

 

Loss: High Fidelity Bullshit

 

Yes, the idea is cool, and offers a great net profit for those who actually care about this.  However, please don’t quiz me and then tell me about how I’m not good enough for your HiFi service.  It’s rude, and literally loses you money.

 

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Spotify

 

Win: They got there first

 

What’s there to say?  Biggest user base, most paid subscribers, most integrated, most brand recognition.  Win.

 

Win: Loyal customer base

 

I’m sorry, I said loyal?  I meant lazy.  Spotify users have their playlists all set up and they sure as hell don’t want to re-make them.  It’s so much easier to stay.  Sorry not sorry.  Good luck getting these people to budge.

 

Loss: Lazy Communication

 

I mean, let’s start with CEO Daniel Eck’s response to Apple Music’s launch.  Passive-aggressive, rude, and unwelcoming.  Way to make an enemy before you even begin.

 
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And let’s end with their response to the recent outcry about their changes to the Privacy Policy.  It’s titled, “SORRY.” I don’t know about you, but “SORRY” doesn’t sound incredibly sincere.  I get the frustration – I work for a tech company.  It doesn’t give you the right to speak to your customers in that tone.

 

Transparency and sincerity go a long way, and Spotify has neither, as far as I’m concerned.  Their customers might be lazy too, but they do have a breaking point.  Let’s hope Spotify doesn’t find out what that breaking point is.

 

Loss: Lack of respect for artists

 

Since Spotify came around, artists have been complaining about the unfairness of Spotify’s freemium ad-supported model, yet they continue not to budge or really even acknowledge the issue.  As long as they’re on top, you can bet that they won’t be changing it up any time soon.

 

So who will actually win and who will actually lose?  It’s fair to say that TIDAL will have to do a 180 to stay in the game.  Between the other two, we’ll just have to see how many people stay on Apple Music after their free trial ends.
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