Music Streaming Wars: What Jay Z’s Tidal, YouTube Music, Beats, etc are all Missing


tidal-share.e86656feIt’s interesting to see the amount of streaming services coming to the market this year – particularly led by the support of the musicians themselves. Feels like it was just yesterday when artists were complaining about streaming / unlimited subscription fees, doesn’t it?

As outlined by the Atlantic, several subscription services are hitting the market that may change the industry…

The latest is Jay Z’s Tidal, announced a week ago with a splashy press conference involving some of today’s most popular musicians. In the coming months, Google will take its YouTube Music Key service out of beta and Apple will put on an ambitious relaunch of Beats Music.

Right. So that’s three huge market disruptors arriving in the space of one year. More competition means more choices for consumers, but possibly more confusion…

In an interview with Billboard, Jay Z made clear that Jimmy Iovine, the legendary record executive who now works with Apple, had been competing with Tidal for celebrity-musician endorsements. This might explain why big names like Taylor Swift and Drake didn’t join their friends Nicki Minaj and Madonna at last week’s press conference; it’s possible they’re aligned with Beats instead.

So what do you do? Go for Taylor or Nicki? (Nicki clearly) …should consumers have to make a choice? My view is that there is a fundamental problem with artists shifting from one platform to another. Artists themselves are the product being sold (yes, artists are a product, a brand, an image defined by the work they create…) I’m all for giving artists power over their work, but it seems they are indirectly about to engage in a competition with one another. And in truth, I’m not down with doing an easter egg hunt to try to listen to my favorite ones.

Then again, maybe there’s another issue here. The last line of the article puts it well…

When artists lament Spotify’s meager payouts, the real culprit isn’t the streaming service, which pays out 70 percent of its revenue to labels and musicians—it’s the fact that streaming doesn’t make a whole lot of revenue to begin with. The most likely way for that to change is for there to be more paying users in the system. So if the golden age of simplicity for streaming’s early adopters is coming to an end, the health of the music industry might be worth it.

What will it take to get more users to pay for streaming services? There are people dropping close to $1000 at Coachella…I’m struggling to believe that the price of streaming really the problem. Maybe it’s just the experience? Perhaps people do want to support artists, who often get paid a lot more doing shows than making albums. Paying Spotify / Pandora just feels distant…like paying for the convenience of using a big machine.

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