Hopefully the millionaire musician owners of Tidal have been
listening to the criticism from their fans and peers. I outlined a couple weeks ago how their
insulting launch totally neglected the one group of musicians
who actually need a theoretical payment structure improvement:
the indies. Instead, millionaires stood on stage lecturing the
public on why they should pay them more money. But I guess when
your entire think tank consists of millionaires and yes-men,
you’re not going to get the perspective you actually need to
launch a successful music service in 2015.
Apple is mere weeks away from launching their Beats-powered
streaming service to (finally) attempt to compete with Spotify.
But rumor has it they aren’t looking to do anything different
in the space – save for a few lackluster exclusives.
Spotify was the first to scale with streaming, but even they
aren’t providing the experience fans (or musicians) crave.
A few nights ago I was listening to the Daft Punk album Random
Access Memories on Spotify. I never gave it a proper listen
when it came out two years ago. Yeah “Get Lucky” was funky, but
I didn’t realize the depth of this! And the musicianship! Ok,
I’ll give you a moment to scroll down to chastise me in the
comments for missing this boat.
Anyway, I was funking out and I couldn’t get over the rhythm
section. So tight. The drummer’s pocket was locked down. Such
an interesting, almost mechanical (yet still human) groove. I
needed to know who this was! And those guitar tones! Gahhh.
But how do I do this? Impossible on Spotify. Impossible even if
I downloaded it on iTunes. Impossible in Rdio, Deezer, Tidal or
So I went to the one place where this information clearly
exists. No, not Wikipedia. Allmusic.com. But, for some sadistic
reason, Allmusic.com on Safari on my iPhone takes over audio
control from Spotify and shuts off the funk!
Tidal includes the most track info for (major label) artists
(fucking the indies seems to be a common theme with Tidal
across the board), but still has major holes. I just tried
finding this info in Tidal on my phone and it includes
Producer, Lyricist, Composer and Featured Artist information
for the Daft Punk album. But no players!
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Rdio on the desktop displays the featured artists, but not on
mobile. Allmusic.com links to Rdio to stream any song from
their site, but ironically Rdio contains no Allmusic
information in their app! How difficult is it to integrate all
of the information from Allmusic.com TO Spotify? TO Rdio. TO
Tidal. TO iTunes…
And what about lyrics?
None of the streaming services include lyrics! So what are we
supposed to do? Head on over to Google and search for them –
which inevitably brings up an ad-laden, “illegal” lyric hosting
site. Which isn’t mobile friendly so I have to manually pinch
What a horrible experience. All around.
Doesn’t anybody understand it’s not JUST about the music?
There needs to be a platform that is THE destination for true
music fandom. A beautiful, all-encompassing, music listening
experience. Why is listening to vinyl so enjoyable? In
part, it’s the ritual of taking the record out of the package,
placing it on the turntable, but also exploring the liner
notes, lyrics and artwork.
iTunes completely neglected this experience for the past
10 years, but because there was no competitive alternative it
got lazy and forgot what a true music experience could be. It’s
not just about the transaction! Or the audio quality.
The destination for music should be an identically
pleasurable experience on mobile, tablet, desktop AND …wait for
Yes, with everyone owning a smart TV, we should be able to
fully immerse ourselves in the music on the TV. Show me HD
album artwork, credits, lyrics, music videos, photos, bio,
everything with a couple clicks of the remote.
On mobile, play the song, swipe right for lyrics, swipe right
again for FULL credits (include the ability to click featured
artists, songwriters and producers to then see THEIR credits –
in app), swipe right for bio info, album artwork, swipe again
for tour dates, TICKET INFO, merch options, crowdfunding
How to do this? Link up with Allmusic.com. Link up with
Songmeanings.com (one of the few legal lyric sites out there).
Link up with BandPage for merch and tickets. Merge with
PledgeMusic to have the crowdfunding LIVE within this app.
Ongoing. Stop making the users hop around the internet, apps,
phones, platforms. What is going to be the hub to kill off
And what about Jazz and Classical? No service, download or
streaming, has gotten this right. How do I search for all
albums with Herbie Hancock? No, not just his albums, but the
records where he’s a sideman for Miles Davis, Freddie
Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, and the list goes on. Impossible! And
what about Olga Kern’s version of the Rachmaninoff Piano
Concerto #3? Good luck finding that. Well, it’s on YouTube.
Maybe YouTube Music Key will solve this. Doubtful.
Yes, Exclusives are important. And the 2013 Nielsen study revealed that music fans
would pay up to $2.6 BILLION more if they were offered behind
the scenes, VIP access, exclusives and experiences. But the
superstars are so out of touch they don’t know what
exclusives fans actually crave. The
Tidal exclusives are laughable. A video? Come on!
It’s thrown up on YouTube minutes after it hits Tidal.
Want to know exclusives people would pay for?
Live streaming hangouts and home concerts in the app,
interacting with the fans commenting in real time. That can’t
be replicated. Early access to tickets. The ability to buy
backstage, pre-show hangouts. Forums, message boards and fan
collaborations where they know the artist will peek in once in
awhile and say what up.
Why isn’t anyone thinking like this? And if they are, what’s
the damn hold up?!
Bitching about higher streaming royalties dilutes the true
issue at stake. The user experience is abysmal. Let’s get
people to FALL IN LOVE with the experience of listening to
music again. Yes, audio quality is important. But so is
The app world has it right. Get the user hooked on the free
version, then get them to make their purchases in app. The free
version of these streaming services could include low-fi music.
The paid version would unlock a music listening experience so
great that fans wouldn’t think twice about upgrading. And with
their credit cards on file, they’ll buy tickets, support crowd
funding campaigns, buy merch and tip their favorite artists.
Want to win the future of recorded music? Don’t play catch up.
Photo is by Amanda Norisada and used with permission (yes
that’s an Ari Herstand baby romper. what what!)