Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Tidal: Celebrity Power is not a Brand Equity

You’ll probably heard about the big, mass-media event that was Jay-Z’s launch of Tidal, the music service he’s bought out. It was a huge deal, especially on social media, with music stars promoting the service and talking about a revolution in music.

Of course, it is now underperforming and barely registering in the market.

Why? This one is pretty easy actually. A new service entering a crowded market needs to have a point of difference. What is the point of difference for Tidal? 

Well, strictly speaking it has higher sound quality than other providers, something that audiophiles should love.

The problem is that no one knows that.

If you ask people what they know about Tidal, the first thing they know about it is that it’s by Jay-Z.

(Actually the first thing they know about it is that it’s that thing that makes waves. I doubt that many people care about Tidal yet, if they ever will.)

By making the launch event so megalomaniacal, so overblown, Tidal has made celebrity its story. Now in an age of celeb culture, Twitter and Instagram, that could be a way to launch a product. Lord knows that a lot of people are willing to buy virtually anything if it has a whiff of celebrity around it.

But Tidal aspires to be something bigger than celebrity. They just chose to frame their marketing in a way that makes it seem that way – that this was just an exercise in ego for Jay-Z and the other artists involved.

The core issue is that the main pitch made by the leaders of Tidal was that this was a system that would be better for the artists. And that is a good pitch to make – to artists.

Your everyday consumer, rightly or wrongly, doesn’t care very much about making things better for the artists. It’s a nice idea sure, but it comes tangentially to the primary concern, which is value.

And it’s hard to feel good about value when the artists that are front and centre in the Tidal launch are the multimillionaires. 

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