Analysis

Tidal Discovery aims at artists, but App Store rank slides


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Tidal has – finally! – been talking about its plans to provide a better experience for musicians using its platform, after a launch press conference that attracted widespread criticism for its emphasis on famous artists rather than grass-roots creators. “I think it’s a little unfortunate there’s been a rush to judgment, but ultimately we’ll be judged based upon our actions,” Tidal’s chief information officer Vania Schlogel told Smashd, before outlining exactly what those actions will be.

Tidal Rising we know about: a section of Tidal devoted to emerging artists – including independent musicians – which we reported on earlier this month. But Tidal Discovery is the next initiative: a way for artists to upload music themselves which seemingly will cut out (optionally) distributor middlemen. “When it comes to the distribution of music, I want to get a point where there are no blockades for artists in order to be able to easily do that for themselves,” said Schlogel.

Tidal will also launch an artist dashboard to provide access to analytics, while promising to pay every label – whether indie or major – a 62.5% revenue share. “I think indie artists who come on to Tidal through their label can at least have the piece of mind that their label is not being paid less of a percentage just by virtue of being indie,” said Schlogel. Beats Music famously made a similar flat-rate-fits-all promise, although that did not necessarily include parity for advance payments or equity stakes.

Even so, Tidal is at least making the right noises now, even as it faces more scepticism about its chances of competing with Spotify and Apple. An op-ed on Boy Genius Report yesterday epitomised that view, pointing to the fact that Tidal’s app has fallen out of the US App Store’s Top 700 iPhone downloads chart, with its plummet coinciding with a surge in downloads for Spotify and Pandora, which have both been hovering in the top five of the same store’s top GROSSING chart in recent weeks.

It’s too early to write off Tidal based on its app store performance: the marketing for the service has yet to kick in to gear. Even so, the chart data is instructive in showing the risks of a premium-only digital service publicly criticising a freemium rival – it may serve only to reignite awareness of the latter and send a flood of new users to it.

But there’s a wider, positive message about that top grossing chart too: in the US, at least, Pandora and Spotify are jostling with the (still hugely lucrative) Candy Crush Saga in terms of revenues through the App Store, which is welcome news. Although also remember that Apple is thus taking a 30% cut of all those revenues.

Stuart Dredge

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