Tidal, Jay Z's upstart streaming music service, has been offering a slew of exclusive releases recently, along with being the only music streaming service licensed to stream the music catalog of the late pop superstar Prince. Are these exclusives helping Tidal to succeed against the big players like Spotify and Apple Music, and how do they affect consumers?
Tidal has been on a roll lately in terms of offering exclusive music through its streaming service unavailable on its competitors. Three of the biggest pop stars in the world have recently released their newest albums as Tidal exclusives: Rihanna with Anti, Kanye West with The Life of Pablo and most recently, Jay Z's wife Beyoncé with her Lemonade collection.
Estimates have placed the number of new Tidal subscribers gained through the exclusive offerings in the millions, but the big question is whether those subscribers will continue with the service long-term and remain paid subscribers, or if they will just utilize the free trial period offered by the service to avail themselves of the music and then drop Tidal without converting.
Certainly, in the short-term, Tidal is in fact benefiting from the wave of new exclusives on the service, based on reports indicating that Google searches for the terms '"tidal" and "music" were up significantly prior to the new Beyoncé release. The untimely death of pop icon Prince surely added another boost to Tidal's numbers, as the streamer is the only music streaming service where fans can access Prince's catalog on demand.
Global head of communications and public policy at Spotify Jonathan Prince spoke out against long-term streaming exclusives recently, saying, "We believe long-term exclusives are bad for artists and they're bad for fans. Artists want as many fans as possible to hear their music, and fans want to hear the music they're excited about — exclusives get in the way of both. Of course, we understand that short promotional exclusives are common, we don't have a total policy against them, and we certainly respect the choice of artists to decide what's right for them."
Right now, it appears as if those long-term exclusives are Tidal's primary way of standing out against its larger rivals. Tidal still only has a measly six percent brand recognition versus over 50 percent each for Apple Music, iHeartRadio, Spotify, Amazon Music and Pandora, which leads the pack with a whopping 82 percent brand recognition. For now, it looks like long-term exclusives are here to stay at Tidal, which has announced that Beyoncé's Lemonade will be streamed exclusively on the service "in perpetuity," essentially meaning forever.