You can’t say Kanye doesn’t try to help his friends. When his new album, The Life of Pablo was released 2 weeks ago…and you probably torrented it. And who could blame you? After a few fits and stops, the album was only available to stream on Tidal. Besides, you were by no means the only one to do it. While The Life of Pablo failed to even chart due to its Tidal-only release, it was pirated over 500,000 times in it’s first 24 hours of release.
It ultimately seemed like a good turn of events for Tidal, as it quickly rose to the top of the App Store charts. So good on Kanye for getting people to download a free and and try a free trial of a music service. The question was whether this momentum would keep up. Would Tidal remain a highly downloaded app, and will people pay for the service when their free trial is over?
So where are we now? Tidal is currently sitting at #54 on the App Store’s free list. That’s right between Merged! and Fitbit, which isn’t that bad. But Tidal doesn’t care how many people downloaded their free app, they care about how many people pay for it. Tidal is now at #91 on the top grossing list. This is good, but it pales in comparison to other music services like Spotify(3) and Pandora(6). It even lags behind more niche players like Tunein(52), and Rhapsody(81).
The question you have to ask is this: where is Tidal going to be next week. Do you think something’s going to happen that will get more people to download the app? Are more people going to start paying for Tidal when their free trial runs out in the next couple weeks? They’ve already had Kanye West and Rhianna release massive, exclusive albums on Tidal and neither seems to have had a lasting impact on Tidal’s success. Blips sure, but lasting customers…not so much.
Ultimately there is only so much room in the music industry, and Apple and Spotify are sucking up all the air at the moment. Tidal doesn’t have a clear pitch to users right now, and their current tactic of getting exclusive releases is clearly not enough.