Tidal has adopted the ‘streaming exclusives’ strategy in a bid to drive subscriber numbers, but at what cost?
Well…in deed limiting the availability of artists music to a particular streaming service has proved to be a good strategy for the platform, in terms of increasing user numbers. We saw this with Kanye West’s ‘The Life of Pablo’ album, which doubled Tidal’s subscribers. And, although we don’t currently know how much of an effect Beyonce’s Lemonade has had on the platform’s number of users, we do know that as a result of her albums exclusivity, Tidal is now the most downloaded music smart phone app in Britain and the United States, according to App Annie.
But, the absence of Lemonade on other popular streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music has caused a surge in illegal downloads of the album. Lemonade is now the fifth most illegally downloaded album on The Pirate Bay and Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo is the most illegally downloaded on the site. Both albums were Tidal exclusives on release, and both albums were said to be only ever available on this service.
Yes – Kanye West later ‘changed his mind’ by making his album available on pretty much every well-known music streaming service there is. But, music fans didn’t know this at that time. We don’t know if the same will happen with Beyonce’s Lemonade.
But, we do know that this strategy of streaming exclusives is having two main effects…
1. Surge in Subscribers
There are music fans that will sign up to a service in a bid to listen to their favourite artists music, and these platforms know this all too-well. Tidal isn’t the only service that is streaming exclusive content in a bid to fight off the competition and increase user numbers. Spotify has had its fair share of exclusives, and Apple Music has exclusively released Drake’s music for a short time before it was more widely distributed.
2. Piracy Craze
There are some music fans that refuse to sign up to a service to listen to an exclusive (which may be because they are a subscriber of a competing service) and instead opt for pirate sites. Apple Music subscribers or Spotify users are already paying $9.99 a month, but if they are a Beyonce fan how do they listen to her latest album? They either have to sign up to Tidal, go down the illegal route, or simply wait and hope that it will be later available on the service that they are paying for.