As my graduate studies wind down, I thought it’d be fun to share a course paper I compiled on Tidal’s streaming service, for an advertising class. I received a very good grade on the paper, but that said, by no means am I under any grand delusions that Tidal’s leadership would use, or even consider any of this. Trust me, there’s plenty to critique. Truth be told, as has been the case with much of my work, given the general lack of time that I have in balancing work and life with a double course load, there’s certainly an element of “I just have to get this shit done” to this paper, particularly the budget section. That research was hard to come by and again, I simply don’t have the time to make it perfect. But, the professor seemed to like it, commenting that aside from the budget section, which she thought could be more thorough, overall it was a solid effort. As such, I figured why not share it with our readers?
Note, for web formatting and ease of readability purposes, I’ve taken some liberties with this post as far as not stringently adhering to the APA standards against which the paper was built.
Note also, I put this together before Kanye released his “Famous” video (which I love by the way), so lamentably, that didn’t factor into the research. That said however, for the fictional radio spot (see Appendix A) which I put together roughly 5-6 weeks ago, I used Beyoncé’s “Freedom” off her Lemonade release as the backing track and thematic driver for the commercial. I was happy (though honestly, not at all surprised) that she rocked the house at the BET Awards performing that track, alongside Kendrick Lamar of course. What can I say? If it works for my grad piece, why wouldn’t it work for the BET Awards and the millions watching across the globe? 😉
Enjoy, hate, or constructively critique! Whatever suits your fancy.
Advertising Campaign Plan – Tidal
Ivan De Jesus
Tidal – Company Overview
Tidal is a music streaming service primarily owned by a coalition of well-known artists that include Shawn “JAY Z” Carter, Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, Calvin Harris, Chris Martin, Daft Punk, Deadmau5, Jack White, Jason Aldean, J. Cole, Kanye West, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, and Usher (Tidal, 2016). The company prides itself in offering exclusive content from a variety of musicians that directly connects artists with fans across the world in a variety of ways (Tidal, 2016). Tidal’s services include, “high-fidelity, CD sound quality music, high resolution video, an opportunity to discover new artists via TIDAL Discovery, and unique experiences via Tidal X” (Tidal, 2016). Tidal’s streaming catalog includes over 40 million songs as well as nearly 90,000 high quality videos. Its services are available in 46 countries worldwide.
When Hip Hop mogul Shawn “Jay Z” Carter became majority owner of Tidal back in March of 2015, the streaming service (formerly owned by the Swedish company, Aspiro), immediately gained high global notoriety. That said, Shawn Carter and his coalition of artists stakeholders faced an uphill battle at the time of the acquisition. When first purchased, the service had a relatively modest subscriber base of roughly 500,000, of which only roughly 20,000 were direct subscribers, with the rest having access to Tidal by way of partnership services (Hovlan, 2016, para.8). As such, the company’s main initiative since then has been to stimulate growth. What follows is an analysis of the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
- Strong brand / name recognition
- Well-known artist ownership coalition
- Aided by “exclusive” releases, most recently Beyoncé’s Lemonade.
- Growing customer base
- Up to 3 million per latest reports (Rys, 2016, para.1).
- High-definition quality sound and video
- Streaming and purchasing options
- Needs stronger social media presence
- Needs stronger television ad presence
- Needs more dynamic on-line ad presence
- Media backlash
- Strong anti-Tidal sentiment in corporate media
- Unfair portrayals of Tidal as already a failure or destined to fail
- Budding industry
- Music streaming / digital media outlets continues to rise
- Physical music/media formats continue to decline
- Creative / high-profile advertising options
- High-profile artists connected to Tidal
- Can use social media and live performances to expand Tidal’s visibility
- Traditional advertising
- Company can greatly expand television, radio, on-line, and social media presence
- Apple Music (11 million subscribers)
- Spotify (30 million subscribers)
- Anti-Tidal sentiment (see weaknesses)
- Free streaming music outlets
- Yahoo Music
Perhaps the biggest challenge Tidal faces lies in the vast array of free music streaming options available to the casual listener. While it’s certainly true that the quality of sound and the overall availability of music is greater on paid platforms such as Tidal, Apple Music, and Spotify’s paid service, the fact remains that casual listeners generally do not mind listening to their favorite music free of charge, even if the quality lacks a bit. YouTube, Pandora, and Yahoo Music, while all also have paid service options as well, are go-to platforms for the casual music fan, many of whom have no desire to pay for music at all. This has been a problem in the music industry since the early 2000 days of now-defunct media pirating platforms such as Napster and Limewire. When compiled with the relative strength of chief competitors Apple Music and Spotify, Tidal certainly faces an uphill batter for market share.
Additionally, for whatever reasons, there is an apparent mainstream / corporate media backlash that has branded Tidal a failure, seemingly before the company has even had a chance to truly get off the ground, much less flourish. A simple Google search of “Tidal Failure” reveals an array of articles and blog posts (as pictured below) that speak to this sentiment. Given the company has a reported six times as many subscribers today than it did as recently as 13 months ago, this sentiment is confusing, if not outright alarming. Potential new Tidal subscribers want to feel good about the investment they are making, and this anti-Tidal sentiment certainly hurts the company. As such, given that for many, perception is reality, Tidal is in a position where it has to fight the perception of a failed company.
Past Advertising Efforts
Market challenges aside, Tidal’s greatest weakness thus far has been its generally lackluster advertising efforts. While its on-line ads, bearing the hashtag #TidalForAll, are well-done and show some promise (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-57i6EeKLM), there simply isn’t enough advertising out there for Tidal to significantly increase its presence in the industry. Its #TidalForAll campaign puts a premium on the company’s big-name artists affiliates, but does not do enough (if anything) to appeal to the casual fan. Both television and radio ads for Tidal are relatively scarce. Additionally, Tidal’s social media and overall on-line presence is weak, particularly considering that this should be very high on the company’s list of go-to marketing strategies. Ultimately, Tidal is an on-line streaming service, so whereas a few #TidalForAll videos on YouTube are helpful, they certainly are not enough to truly captivate what should be its core audience, the digital music fan.
The campaign’s target audience is two-fold; the casual listener and the music enthusiast. More specifically however, Tidal’s core target market will consist of millennials, both men and women ages 18-34. As noted in Digital Music News, millennials are very particular about their music wants and needs. Among the tendencies attributed to said demographic are, buying music to show support and gratitude for the artists, craving intimate glimpses into daily activities of their favorite artists, wanting to feel involvement in the creation and branding process, frequent social media interaction across various platforms, wanting as little distance as possible between themselves and their favorite artists, constant access to artists whereabouts and intimate details, and a preference for shuffle mode listening which include diverse multi-genre playlist (Resnikoff, 2013).
As such, the advertisements for the casual fan will feature men and women of various ages and various ethnicities enjoying Tidal in a variety of settings such as, urban, suburban, upscale, and casual. Additionally, the music used for the ads will reflect the diversity of the music millennials listen to, ranging from pop, to hip hop, alternative, rock, rhythm & blues, edm, dance, house, freestyle, reggae, reggaeton, merengue, bachata, and salsa. This will intrigue not only American listeners, but also those in Latin America and Europe. Ultimately, it is our intent for the ads featuring a diverse array of millennial aged everyday people. These spots will be designed to appeal to casual fans of various ethnicity and walks of life. Additionally, ads that feature high-profile artists will strike a nerve with the devout music enthusiast, or rather, the listener more likely to appreciate and respond to Tidal’s advantages in sound and video quality as well as its exclusivity rights with prominent artists.
Tidal aims to be the premier high-end streaming service in the marketplace. It sees vast opportunities in the budding streaming music industry to become the go-to service for both the casual and most devout listener. Tidal’s strong ties and exclusive streaming deals with such high-profile artists as Beyoncé, Prince, Jay Z, and Kanye West present the company with unique marketing opportunities through both traditional television and radio platforms as well as various web based and social media driven content. The primary intent of this marketing campaign is to expedite growth of Tidal’s subscriber base (3 million currently), thereby bridging the gap between industry leaders Spotify (30 million) and Apple Music (8 million). Additionally, not enough has been done thus far to highlight Tidal’s existing successes and potential for even greater market share going forward. This campaign will directly refute the anti-Tidal sentiments explored above.
Another goal of this marketing campaign is to increase Tidal’s overall visibility in the marketplace, alluring both the casual listener and the more devout music fan. We aim to build upon the company’s existing Tidal’s #TidalForAll campaign with a more comprehensive approach. Traditional and satellite radio advertisements will be launched in conjunction with television commercials, online videos, and an integrated social media campaign utilizing Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Web based advertising will also consist of spots on other streaming services such as Yahoo Music, YouTube, and Pandora. There will be two approaches to the ads; videos and stills of casual listeners enjoying their favorite music on Tidal, and ads where Tidal artists are featured promoting the advantages of the services, namely, exclusive content and superior sound and video quality. This multi-faceted approach will engage undecided music fans by highlighting Tidal’s distinct strengths within the industry; higher quality sound and exclusive content not available on other streaming services.
Our message is both simple and clear: Whether you’re a casual or devout music fan, Tidal is without a doubt the premier streaming service in the market place. To that end, our campaign will better utilize Tidal’s prominent artists line-up, and better promote its exclusive content in order to lure the devout music listener. For example, the recent passing of mega star, Prince, though tragic in nature, presents Tidal with an opportunity to the fallen mega star’s music streaming exclusively on the platform. Our campaign, by way of its visual advertisements, such as the web banner shown on appendix B, as well as television and radio spots and socia media outreach, will make it a point to highlight Tidal’s exclusive streaming right’s to not only Prince’s music, but also that of Jay-Z’s, Beyoncé’s and others (O’Malley, 2016). That Tidal is the only streaming service that carries the music of certain high profile artists needs to be a bigger part of the company’s advertising strategy. Our campaign, by way of an integrated mix of television, radio, web video, and social media ads will ensure this occurs.
Ultimately, while targeting the casual listener is key to our approach, as a set of ads featuring a variety of casual listeners in a variety settings is critical to our campaign’s success, we recognize that Tidal’s true opportunity for growth is capturing the nuanced millennial, or music “snob,” if you will. Tidal’s superior sound and video quality along with its exclusivity deals with prominent artists presents the company with a prime opportunity to differentiate itself from its competitors, effectively becoming the “high-end” streaming service. Our advertising campaign will both promote and capitalize on this notion of differentiation. Our social media campaign, by way of Snapchat video exclusives as well as live Twitter and Facebook question and answer initiatives will feed the millennials’ need for bridging the gap between artist and fan, as well as her/his thirst for exclusive content. These initiatives will drive growth and cement Tidal’s standing as the industry’s premier streaming service.
CLICK HERE FOR MORE OF TIDAL’S FICTIONAL ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN