Tag Archives for " TIDAL "

January 25, 2017

Jay-Z Gets Bailed Out As Sprint Invests In Tidal

Sprint logoRecently there’s been a lot of speculation on how long Tidal could financially hold on before it would have do something drastic. Today those fears are allayed with the news that telco Sprint has bought a 33% interest in the music streaming service for $200 million. Each of the company’s much celebrated two dozen artist-owners will remain as partners.

A big part of the deal is that Sprint reportedly contributed another $75 million just for future artist exclusives and marketing, which had been lacking in recent months.

Sprint is owned by the Japanese giant Softbank and has about 45 million paying customers, which will reportedly now get access to Tidal as part of their cell phone service agreement.

Tidal is reported to only have about 1 million paying customers, but it is available in 52 countries and has more than 42 million songs in its catalog, as well as 140,000 videos. It’s not known how many of those are on the premium high-definition tier, but it’s presumed to be only a small portion. The press release sent out about the investment states that there will be no change in service for Tidal’s current customers.

Tidal has had a relationship with Sprint that goes back a couple of years, and owner Jay-Z has been courting the company since then. That said, Tidal was burning through money while its paid subscribers weren’t rising at a fast enough rate to compensate. Something had to give, and after overtures to other large companies like Apple, the company pulled off the surprise Sprint deal.

This should at least buy the company some time, give it some money to market with, and gain a new customer base from Sprint customers. Tidal gives Sprint its entry into the music world, which it’s been looking for for some time. At the moment its a win/win scenario for both companies.

Tidal Releases Some Year End Numbers, But Not The Right Ones

tidalOut of all the music streaming networks, Tidal seems to get more than its fair share of publicity. No doubt that’s because it’s owned by a music celebrity (Jay-Z), but for a relatively small player in the streaming game, Tidal manages to punch above its weight. The company recently released some interesting numbers that covered everything except what matters most, and that’s paid subscribers.

For instance, the company says it has produced 39 live streams of concerts and festivals, given away over 180,000 tickets to subscribers for more than 100 events, hosted more than 45 music videos and 90 behind-the-scenes videos, and offered more than 150 playlists created by artists, athletes and celebrities throughout the year.

It also reported 32 exclusive albums released on the platform in 2016, including releases of Rihanna’s Anti, Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo and Beyoncé’s Lemonade. It made a big deal out of the fact that it was the only place to stream 15 Prince albums, only to discover down the road that, according to the Prince estate, it had no right to do so.

These are all nice numbers, but there’s no mention of the number of subscribers. It’s been estimated that Tidal has around 3 million paid subscribers, which while is not in the same league as Spotify and Apple Music, is still respectable. That said, it’s also been reported that Tidal has more subscriber churn than other services, with many users signing up for an exclusive, then dropping it after the exclusive has run out.

The company has also faced a significant brain drain, changing high-level execs regularly, and appears to be in a money crunch, which is why Jay-Z has been openly looking for a buyer for some time. That’s less and less likely to happen, since there’s not that much that another service would get for the acquisition. The subscriber numbers aren’t that high, you probably wouldn’t inherit the licenses, and any streaming service in the game already has it’s own infrastructure in place.

With all that in mind, look for Tidal to change significantly during 2017. To be sure, it won’ be the same service this time next year.

Music Industry News Roundup For The Week Of 11/18/16

Music Industry News Roundup Here’s the Music Industry News Roundup for the week of November 18th, 2016. Lots on the legal front this week, and streaming news is back strong again. Let’s get into it.

The Justice Department wants BMI to collect fees in a different way. It asked for “full work licenses” where all songwriters must agree to a license, but lost the argument in court recently. It has now announced that it will appeal. Not good for the publishing business if it wins as licensing will get a lot harder if there are multiple songwriters involved.

A long list of music industry associations have asked the US government to support European copyright actions aimed at YouTube. They’re hoping that the royalty payout from YouTube ultimately rises to that of Spotify or Apple Music. This is a long shot at best, but certainly worthy of continued discussion.

Some insiders think that Trump might be good for business. They site the close ties of the Obama administration to Google. Good luck with that one.

Prince’s estate is suing Tidal. It says that the streaming service has been illegally streaming a number of the superstar’s albums without a license. This could end up being the death knell for the service.

Google Play Music rolled out some new features. Improvements to the user interface include contextual song recommendations, which are garnering kudos all around. This could end up being a big deal, as Apple Music is generally thought of as clunky to use, while Spotify as a little stodgy in its UI.

Amazon launched Amazon Music Unlimited in Europe to much fanfare. It’s now available in the UK, Germany, and Austria. And the service rolled out a Family Plan as well.

More than a quarter of all music streaming subscribers hop around. They go from service to service on the free plans with different email addresses, according analyst Mark Mullligan. Not good that they can’t be converted.

Spotify now driving concert ticket sales. It’s now sending out emails to subscribers with ticket offers.

BMG going all in with Alibaba in China. It had signed a 2 year deal to supply music to the Chinese giant, and now extended the agreement for 3 more years.

Metallica’s music returns to Napster. 17 years after the group had a collective thrombo over the music service, their music is back on the platform. We’ve come full circle on that one, haven’t we?

That’s the Music News Roundup of what went on in the music industry last week. Let’s see what next week brings.

Neil Young Gives In And Puts Music Back On Streaming Services

Neil YoungNeil Young pulled his music off of every streaming service in 2015 because of the poor sound quality in favor of his own Pono service, but in a reversal, now he’s back. Although last May his music was made available on Tidal, now it can be found on both Spotify and Apple Music.

Pono was Young’s idea for a high-resolution streaming service complete with it’s own player, but the timing, as well as expectations for demand, were off. By the time it launched, music lovers had abandoned music players like the iPod for streaming, so putting an expensive, oddly shaped device in the pants pocket was out of the question, regardless how it sounded.

While Neil Young has always used the argument that his fans wouldn’t stand for the lower quality sound and expected more from him, that doesn’t seem to be the case, and his entry back on the various streaming services is an admission to that premise.

This is another example of how fans care more about convenience than anything else. Although improvements in sound quality have frequently come with new delivery technologies that the music industry has adopted, that’s never been the reason why most people would buy or use the product, although for many it was a happy coincidence. It’s been improved ease of use that’s always won the day, and streaming has been the best example of that ever.

Although the sound quality isn’t up to par with vinyl and CDs, the fact that you can access literally millions of songs almost anywhere anytime is a far more attractive feature to most users. That said, the streaming quality is getting better, and high-quality tiers from both Deezer and Tidal are available for anyone who cares enough.

I predict that by the end of 2017, one or more of the mainstream streaming services will also make the move to high-resolution, which may put the quality issue to bed for good (unless you’re an audiophile, of course).

[Photo: Andy Roo]
September 30, 2016

Industry News Roundup For The Week Of 9/30/16

Music Industry News Roundup Here’s the music industry news roundup from the week of Sept 30th, 2016. There’s a wide range of topics this week that run the gamut from album sales to social networks to acquisitions to bankruptcy, so let’s get to it.

Adele gets her second Diamond album in the US. Her album 25 just went past the 10 million mark, making her only the third woman to do so. The other ones? You’ll never guess – Britney Spears and Celine Dion!

Drake makes history too. He’s the first artist with an album (Views) that reached 1 billion streams on Apple Music. Image what his totals are when you add the other streaming platforms in.

Spotify may be buying Soundcloud. The reasoning is that SC could make it easier for young artists to get on Spotify, but it seems like too much money (probably over $1 billion) for a service that has already peaked.

The music industry comes down hard on Youtube-mp3.org. It’s a website that allows people to rip the audio from YouTube videos into downloadable files. The site is based in Germany and makes money from advertising, but record labels all over the world have banded together to file a lawsuit to shut it down.

A bid for Twitter looks to be coming soon. The suitors for the social network are said to include Google and Salesforce.com, as well as other technology companies. Could this mean the eventual end of the platform?

Everyone’s angry at Facebook for overestimating video view time. The company’s been doing it for a couple of years, and taking advertisers to the cleaners in the meantime. Those figures always looked too good to be true.

Rdio’s bankruptcy is messy. Here’s what happens when a music streaming network goes belly-up. There’s a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth over money, which is no surprise.

Rolling Stone Magazine partially acquired by BandLab. Doesn’t make much sense on the surface, but Mark Mulligan’s always insightful blog sees the strategy in it, although he doesn’t think the pairing will last.

A Blockchain editor proves the technology won’t be savior of the music business. The tech behind Bitcoin defeats the purpose of how it works if it can be edited. Many companies have popped up recently with hopes of all music being coded with Blockchain, but none could gain industry traction. Their chances are much worse today.

Don’t look now, but Snapchat has some new hardware. The company is trying to go one-up on Google Glass with pair of sunglasses that can record short videos to upload to the platform. They look pretty cool, while Google Glass was just creepy.

Radio’s dying because it’s stuck in the past. It can’t seem to find a way to transition to mobile the way that the music and television industries have.

That’s the News Roundup of what went on in the music industry last week. Let’s see what next week brings.

September 23, 2016

Music Industry News Roundup For The Week Of 9/23/16

Music Industry News Roundup Here’s the music industry news roundup from the week of Sept 23rd, 2016. Streaming in the news again, but what else is new. It at the heart of the music industry’s evolution right now

Will “flexible pricing” be in our streaming future? Don’t be surprised to see cheaper pricing tiers at all of the services, not that the barriers have been broken.

Universal and Sony are launching their own streaming service. It’s called NOW Music+, but if history tells us anything, these label collaborations never work out.

One of Spotify’s investors wants it to sell to Facebook. Not that Facebook wants it, but at least Spotify Daniel Ek and Facebook Mark Zuckerberg know each other.

Streaming revenue really grew in the first half of 2016. And this article says that Apple Music was responsible. Maybe so, but Spotify still has more than twice as many users.

Don’t look now, but iHeartRadio may launch it’s own streaming network. Seems like a death wish, since the company is so deep in debt. Could it be a Hail Mary play?

Tidal is in trouble because of subscriber churn. The minute an exclusive is over, the subscriber drops the service. Bad news for Jay-Z.

Does radio have to be live? Radio futurologist says no, and live can even be a hinderance to a station.

A third of all people under 25 now pay for music streaming. This according to the latest study from the IFPI. That’s up 40% over last year.

Frank Ocean is looking for a distribution deal. Apparently he’s a handful to work with, so even though he’s hot, negotiations are slow.

That’s the News Roundup of what went on in the music industry last week. Let’s see what next week brings.

September 16, 2016

Music Industry News Roundup For The Week Of 9/16/16

Music Industry News Roundup Here’s the music industry news roundup from the week of Sept 16th, 2016. There’s a lot of news in the streaming space, but also some interesting news with club music in Australia and the UK charts as well.

Tidal had huge loses last year. It appears that the streaming service is not doing well and burning around $2 mil per month. No wonder Jay-Z is looking for a buyer.

And it has a lot of unpaid bills. Over 100 in fact, including rent, accountants, recording labels, advertising agencies, and just about everything else you can think of. Tidal was never a serious streaming contender, and was only a money play for Jay-Z that looks like it’s not going to turn out well.

Why hasn’t Apple Music introduced hi-res music yet? It seems that the introduction of the iPhone 7 would have been the perfect time, since the transition over to digital earphones is now underway and audio reproduction is a big feature.

Pandora announced a number of licensing deals. With everyone except Warner Music, that is. Even most of the indie labels are now licensed, which leads you to believe that its new service will be launched just about any time now.

Spotify wants to go public, which means a change in service. The streaming leader may get rid of the free tier to make itself look better to the market, which the major labels will love as well.

YouTube told it has to pay more in the EU. The EU is going to reform copyright laws and video sites like YouTube will have to pay more to be in compliance. Very cool.

Is stream-ripping a real thing? It seems like it’s something that the music industry made up so everyone thinks piracy isn’t dead. People just aren’t a serious threat to pirate music from YouTube, not matter what the article says.

Sydney’s lockout laws are causing a dustup. The bars now have to close by 2AM instead of 3:3oAM, but just how much business can you lose at that time of the morning? Then again, those Aussies do like to party.

A change in the UK charts could influence the US as well. Top 40 charts don’t turn over much any more since they reflect streams of songs that are listened to over and over. The UK wants to reward new discovery, which might change how charts are determined.

Ameba Records in Hollywood will not see the wrecking ball. At least not until its lease runs out. Ameba sold its prime real estate on Sunset Blvd last year, so this might not end well, but at least any ending won’t happen in the near future.

That’s the News Roundup of what went on in the music industry last week. Let’s see what next week brings.

Buying Tidal Is A Terrible Waste Of Apple’s Money

Apple Buying Tidal?A report from the Wall Street Journal yesterday has Apple in talks to buy Jay-Z’s Tidal streaming service, and even though Tim Cook’s company has a truck load of cash on hand, this is one acquisition that seems to be a waste of money.

When Apple purchased Beats two years ago for around $3 billion, the company received not only infrastructure that was later used to launch Apple Music, but also executive talent in Jimmy Iovine and Ian Rogers (who has since departed), and branding recognition from Dr. Dre. The general consensus is that the company vastly overpaid for what it received, but at least you could look at the deal and see that it made some sense because a few pieces fit into the larger picture of what Apple was trying to do.

Not so with Tidal. It’s a company reportedly in executive disarray, so there’s no operational talent to acquire. Apple already has all the infrastructure it needs for streaming delivery, so there’s nothing to be gained there either. Tidal does have a high resolution CD quality audio tier, but Apple has been collecting hi-res masters for its Mastered For iTunes program for more than three years now, so it’s even ahead of Tidal in this area, so that’s not a fit either.

Maybe the one thing that might be interesting to Apple is that fact that Tidal has 4.2 million paid subscribers, many of them attracted to the service because of Jay-Z’s brand, and exclusives from Beyonce, Rhianna, Kenye West and Prince. Buy Tidal and you get the users, but who’s to say that those subscribers can easily be retained?

Granted, if the price was right (meaning very low – $100 million or less feels right), it may be a worthwhile gamble for Apple, if for no other reason in that it takes it off the market (although none of Apple’s deep pocket competitors seem to be interested). [Read more on Forbes…]

June 15, 2016

The Music Industry Continues To Whiff On Each Giant Opportunity

RadioheadArtists, labels and music services alike continue to lament the fact that not enough free streaming subscribers are converting to the paid tier, yet the possible incentive to get those free tier customers to upgrade is being ignored by the different players along the product pipeline. Superstar albums continue to be released without the industry taking advantage of the considerable leverage that they bring with fans, which amounts to a missed opportunity to improve the health of the music industry.

What would be the perfect reason to upgrade? How about the ability to access the latest album by Radiohead, Drake, Kanye, Beyonce, Adele, Taylor Swift, or other superstar artist?

By making that new hot album available only on the streaming service’s paid tier, there’s a reason for the consumer to buy in (as we’ve seen with the upsurge of subscribers caused by latest albums from Beyonce and Kanye on Tidal). Although it would be better if a major release was available on every streaming platform for anywhere from two to six weeks before it migrates to the free tier, even an exclusive on a single on-demand platform like Spotify would work, as long as it was only available on the paid tier. Paid-only services like Apple Music could provide the same incentive by not having the latest release available during its free trail period, for instance.

That way, the artist, label, songwriters and publishers all get paid at the highest rate (and their complaints about the low payouts from streaming would diminish as a result), more consumers are turned into paying monthly subscribers, and the industry grows at a much faster pace.

Of course many of the current megastar release strategies are strewn with apprehension that equates to inaction. We may be in the last throws of the physical music business, but that segment still maintains a high-ticket and high-margin. Everyone wants that last surge of profit and no one wants to leave money on the table. But Spotify, who reportedly refused to window the latest Radiohead album on its premium tier, may be just as much to blame as well. [Read more on Forbes…]

Apple Music Up To 13 Million Subscribers

Apple Music SubscribersIt looks like all the naysayers were wrong. Apple reported on its recent earnings call that its Apple Music streaming service was now up to 13 million paid subscribers and still growing.

Much of that growth has come recently in fact, as it was reported that 2 million subscribers signed up since February alone.

The present growth looks to be at around 1 million a month, which means that the tech giant should be battling Spotify for the top space in the streaming industry by the end of year.

Spotify claims to have 20 million current subscribers, but many are on a “student discount” tier at half the $9.99 monthly price.

One advantage that Apple Music has over Spotify is that it’s available in 58 more countries than Spotify, including Russia, China and Japan. All in all, the service is available in a total of 113 countries, leaving Spotify to play catch-up.

One reason for AM’s growth spurt has been albums from Drake, Coldplay, The 1975 and Gwen Stefani, where were releases to AM for a period before Spotify. Having an advert with Taylor Swift was also a big help.

Despite the recent hype around Tidal, it’s Apple Music that seems to be making the most headway.