Last month when Tidal launched we discussed whether this was the “wave of the future” or an awkward, half baked business venture led by icons who don’t understand their consumer base. It’s terrible and hilarious that Axwell & Ingrosso’s manager Amy Thomson should print her open letter to Tidal with Thump the same day Dancing Astronaut publishes an interview with Tidal’s Creative Director Seb Webber.
The problem with contrasting these 2 pieces is that Thomson sounds like a wizard and Webber, hindered by the fact that whoever printed this Dancing Astro piece couldn’t be bothered to make any basic spelling or grammar edits, sounds like a propagandist fuckboi. I don’t think it’s necessarily his fault (c’mon DA, Seb Web did not say ‘defiantly’, he said definitely and he’s the fucking Creative Director of Jay-Z’s startup, can we get just a once-over edit just out of respect?) – it’s just that Tidal has yet to explain to me with any specifics how they’re going to be a service that breaks new artists and that is the deciding factor in earning my business.
Webber says, “Making the early life decision to be an artist, to take that jump, to ignore the odds of success and constantly believe in yourself – that takes courage. To not live with a constant paycheck, to play to empty venues, and keep grinding, keep believing. I mean, that deserves respect. And if we can help support those in that early stage and we help them get just one more stream and one more believer. Then I can go home happy.” Ok, I concur – how does Tidal facilitate this?
Thomson, who’s piece you should really just read cause her radical stance is brilliantly articulated, thinks Tidal should be partially owned by its early adopting users. She says getting in on the groundfloor of Tidal as a user should be like buying stock in the company. “If you take the consumer as seriously as the music, and we all hope you do, and you get the consumer paid for their time, their engagement but also empower them, make them feel part of something, make them think… then you can have the discussion with them about free music versus paid, because they are part of it.”
She’s also quick to remind everyone that music is free and that can’t be stopped, what consumers are paying for is the method and quality of delivery. She suggests a free tier for new artists that allows for monetization as they grow their fanbase and partnerships with retail sites everyone fucks with anyway. I’ll just let her take it from here, preach it girl, “Then look at the content you are putting up there. I don’t give a shit if your new album will be up there—and I have (and have paid for) all your albums. I can get it for $9.99 on iTunes, not spend $120 a year on Tidal. I don’t care about a one off concert, or the improved sound quality that my headphones probably can’t deliver to me anyway.
“Why don’t you grab this and flip it on it’s head and apply your own business model to Tidal. Make kids shareholders with you and watch them grow it. Make them entrepreneurs. Make them… you. Give kids a platform which rewards them also for time spent. Gathering points for consuming, sharing, promoting and engaging, they can cash-in to either higher member levels or take it one step further and partner with retail. Curate the music across like-minded brand stores: Nasty Gal, Reformation, Adidas, TopShop, Nike… most of which have deals in place with at least someone on that panel and curate music while shopping and cash discounts at the register for your Tidal points. Take a percentage from those retailers for driving traffic to those sites.”
That’s the best idea I’ve heard all day, it resonates on a deep level that gets me really excited about what’s possible in the democratized age of artistic expression the Internet allows for. It’s utopian and idealistic, as a consumer it makes me go, “Wait, we could do that?” Combing Webber’s interview I can’t really find anything he says about the service that gives me the feels Thomson’s, “I have a Tidal dream” manifesto does. Get this woman on a consultant retainer ASAP! I leave you with my favorite imagery of the Tidal-topia vision:
“Allow kids to socially curate the site like the perfect cable channel. Let them tell you what else they want pulled in to be able to view under the umbrella. Perhaps Tidal is indeed the new cable channel, perfectly curated by kids selecting from a menu what they want pulled in to their all-encompassing site, using one credit card, one subscription model which may rise if they use multiple services, and pulling in partners with millions of followers. Why should Tidal not have channels where the content owners sit at the top of the chain not the bottom… but doing it in a way so the consumer doesn’t notice. All they see is an incredible site where they have clicked they also want to view and see offers from certain stores, music, videos sites, art, news sites, online TV channels and pull in their social feeds into one place allowing instant sharing and owning their time on socials.”