I have been an evangelist for Tidal since it started. Before Jay Z bought it along with his merry band. Now it seems that the unlikely fruity shadow of Apple is looming over the premium streaming service.
Why do I say unlikely? There has been no secret made of the political games being played between these two.
Apple, ahead of the launch of its own streaming service, apparently played games with Tidal last year. Allegedly, Apple held back the iOS Tidal app updates deliberately which caused the app to drop out of the top 700.
It gets more heavy-handed than that though. Robert Kondrk, vice president of iTunes Content, declared war on artists who sign up with Tidal. Telling execs at Universal Music Group that:
Rihanna and other Tidal artists’ music would not be promoted as featured artists on iTunes if they put exclusive music out on Tidal.”
The thing is, Apple is rich. Very rich. It is also very business led and I have no doubt that they’ll be waving all kinds of money at Jay Z, Beyoncé, Madonna, Daft Punk, et al to make it all better.
Business-wise, a merger between Tidal and Apple Music would make sense. This would create a major streaming service which could take on the behemoth that is Spotify.
If the new supergroup played its cards right, it could even position itself as the good guy to the artists whilst painting Spotify as the shifty, backroom tune dealer who gives hits out for free.
Jay Z also could see this as an opportunity to come away with a rather healthy profit. Not only that though, potentially he could end up with an executive position at the most powerful music company in the world. He might even share the love with the artists who backed him.
Won’t be easy
Beyond my thoughts about Apple (Apple Music being one of the few streaming services I have not even tried, let alone subscribed to), there’s some very real reasons why this merger might not happen.
I’ll even skip over the relationship between Jay Z and Apple executive Jimmy Iovine, which goes way back, and might not be on the greatest terms right now.
The first hurdle will be getting all the Tidal artist-owners to agree to the Apple plan. Many of the artists that are on the Tidal board don’t have a great deal of love for the fruity one. Again, Apple’s cheque book could smooth things over, but that’s down to the artist’s integrity.
Will Apple uphold Tidal’s ethos to create an artist-first platform that pays well and allows musicians an environment to experiment? If what Apple says is true about its own streaming service, then this shouldn’t be a huge shift for them.
To be honest, it would make sense for the newly merged service to really encourage fair payment and artistic freedom. Apple Music has already sponsored tours and helped with releases and videos so there shouldn’t be a huge culture shock.
Tidal, Apple and the consumer
If there is a certain winner in Apple buying Tidal – it will most likely be the consumer.
Such a move, should it happen, will mean that Apple Music will have all of the exclusives. So, if you’re a fan and don’t want to be held back on release day – there will be only one place where you have to go.
All the new releases from artists such as Drake, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Madonna, Kanye West, Daft Punk, etc will land on Apple before anywhere else.
Also, don’t forget, Prince’s entire back catalogue currently only lives on Tidal.
What’s your thoughts on this? Are you happy with Spotify’s free service? Would you rather artists get paid fairly for creating the content you are listening to?
Personally, 99% of my streaming is done through Tidal. The other portion is through a paid account on Spotify. This is only used if Tidal hasn’t got a particular track and I don’t own a copy.
Would you be happy?
Would you move over to Apple Music if Tidal was bought by them? This thought makes me feel uneasy. The reason for this uneasiness is not only because of my loyalty to Tidal but also handing more power to Apple.
Apple Music will become the only real competitor to Spotify -and that sounds a little too much like a monopoly to me.