Tidal nears one year of mediocrity and failure

In Music by Joel Freimark / February 25, 2016

Just under a year ago, Tidal hosted one of the more awkward launch events ever known to man, as a handful of multi-millionaire musicians stood uncomfortably and lost on stage — all seeming to hope one another knew what was going on. In many ways, the event can be seen as the ideal precursor to the brilliant “how do I walk on stage” performance from presidential candidate Ben Carson just a few weeks ago, and the Tidal launch told us all we needed to know about the company. As they approach their first anniversary, things have only gotten worse, and someone should have the decency to put the clueless, unimaginative company out of its misery.

This was a company that had all the time in the world to launch their product, and yet when it finally hit the net, it was half-baked and lacked anything even remotely resembling innovation. Much like their beleaguered launch event, the service was (and is) 99 percent flash and at best one percent substance. Tidal made a long list of claims as to why they’d be different than their competitors, from supporting “small” artists to exclusive releases, and yet almost a year later, they’ve yet to deliver on anything.

Well, they did attempt to have a pair of exclusive album releases, but one was leaked beforehand and the other disappeared from their system before being leaked across the net.

While Tidal has attempted to boast many qualitative reasons users should shell out a minimum $9.99 per month for their service, one they keep attempting to hang their hats on is that they offer lossless audio. At its core, this sounds like a great idea, but the reality is, the vast majority of those listening to music via streaming services could care less about sound quality. The bit rate offered by giants like Spotify and Pandora have proven to be more than sufficient over the years, and a higher audio quality gives no real reason for subscribers to jump ship. If Tidal was trying to corner the audiophile market, they should have taken a glance at the non-success of Neil Young’s PONO project and moved on to another concept.

Then, of course, there was Tidal’s promise that they’d be using the platform to help unknown artists achieve stardom. Used by pretty much every music-related startup, this line is as old as “these photos are just so I can show big time producers what you look like,” and as of yet, not a single artist has been vaulted to any real status by the platform. This in itself isn’t entirely Tidal’s fault, as you need a large, active listener-base to achieve this, and they have neither.

Oh wait, that Kanye guy got a TON of hype when Tidal completely botched his album release — and nobody knew about him or Rihanna before they joined Tidal, right? The only thing Tidal achieved with their arrogant, unprofessional style of “exclusive” releases was incurring a massive amount of hate from the very people they’re trying to convince to pay them every month for a service that is done better elsewhere.

But arrogance runs deep in the lifeblood of Tidal. Even before their launch event, they attempted to garner sympathy and subscribers in an absurd manner. Their pre-launch video was nothing short of unintentional comedic genius and led to countless, well deserved parodies. In short, Tidal was attempting to put forth the concept that they were “the little guy.”

Note to Jay Z, Madonna, Jack White, Kanye West and the long list of multi-platinum millionaires in the video: You can’t make people feel bad for NOT giving you $10 a month when you yourselves haven’t had to consider the value of $10 a month in well over 10 years.

In the end, Tidal has done absolutely nothing of consequence in their first year of existence, aside from find new ways to alienate their current customers and deter new customers from joining their parade of mediocrity. Much in the same manner that Ashlee Simpson did it on stage, Tidal is this decade’s reminder that you can have all the hype and famous names in the world around you, but if the product itself is stale and commonplace, it’ll be forgotten and ignored faster than Coldplay during the Super Bowl halftime show.

[photo: Getty]