How #TidalforAll Missed Its Mark

*This was originally published on 3/31/2015 as an editorial piece for

“In a star-studded celebrity event” is how most posts regarding the announcement of Jay-Z’s Tidal music platform will start, and that’s exactly why Tidal’s best asset became its biggest launching mistake. Before we go further, here are Tidal’s main selling points:


  1. Tidal is artist-owned. Heavy hitters like Jay-Z, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Jason Aldean, Daft Punk, Rihanna, Jack White, Arcade Fire, and more are all equity owners.
  2. Tidal will not have free ad-supported streaming to lure users in.
  3. Tidal will offer a $19.99/mo hi-fidelity streaming service on desktop computers and $25.99 on mobile devices.
  4. Tidal also announced a $9.99/mo basic streaming service on desktop computers and $12.99 on mobile devices.
  5. Tidal is seeking exclusive deals with individual artists to bring them onto the music streaming platform at fair and equitable pay rates.

In an industry that garners $800BILLION dollars a year from music fans every year, that last point should have been the most important, but not in the way it was represented. Yes, EVERY artist deserves to get paid for their plays, and minute fractions of a penny for the artist compared to the lion’s share the service and labels keep is a joke, but when you anchor your launch around established arena-filling artists, you lose site of your true early-adapter userbase: Independent musicians. Up and coming artists who made their first breaks on YouTube, funding tours off pre-roll ads. DIY rock bands fighting it out showcase after showcase only to jump off stage and into the crowd, home-pressed t-shirts in hand to get gas money for the van that Kickstarter or Indiegogo helped fund.

These would and should be your brand champions. Do the legwork and find one struggling artist to match every chart-topper on the Tidal roster and follow the journey as they see what an artist-based coalition can REALLY do for the industry. Share that journey as your ongoing launch campaign. Make that journey newsworthy. If you want to break free from the mega-machine of the major music delivery channels, then you have to include the artists who are already rewriting the industry rules.


Shauna “WhiskeyChick” Castorena

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