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)
- (Rys, 2016, para.2)
- 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.
Timing and Parameters
Our campaign will be captivating, informative, comprehensive, and bold. Upon approval, we will launch the first of television, traditional radio, satellite radio, internet radio, and general web ads simultaneously, ensuring the marketplace cannot turn a blind eye. We will follow-up with a round of social media advertising, utilizing major artists’ Twitter handles, Facebook newsfeeds, Snapchat feeds, etc… to further flood cyberspace with Tidal’s presence. Consumers will see Tidal on their various timelines and get a glimpse into the life of Tidal exclusive artists via Snapchat. Significantly shrinking the boundaries to major artists by way of social media, in conjunction with the aforementioned radio, television, and web strategies, will generate the type of buzz that ultimately will result in a stronger overall market presence and more importantly, increases in the number of Tidal subscribers.
That said, we’ve determined that the importance of continuity outweighs a higher weighted approach. One of the weaknesses we’ve identified with Tidal’s advertising approach thus far is that Tidal ads are few and far between, both online and on television, with radio and social media outreach being all but non-existent. As such, rather than relying on a short-term heavy blast approach, Tidal’s marketing and advertising will rely on perpetuity, so as to ensure the brand remains relevant and visible in the eyes of our target market. This will increase confidence in the product among Tidal’s existing customer base and equally, if not more importantly, entice the undecided subscriber towards Tidal’s services.
Given that music, and thereby, the music streaming industry, is non-discriminatory in that males and females of all ages, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds, it is important that Tidal’s audio and visual ads reflect that rich diversity of potential subscribers. As such, our aim is to expand beyond English only spots after evaluating one quarter’s worth of advertisements. The next round of ads will focus on the other three most widely spoken languages in the worlds; Chinese, Spanish, and Hindi (Infoplease, 2016). After evaluating the success of each campaign by language over 3 quarters, we then plan to introduce ads in the other four of the next six most spoken languages in the world; Arabic, Portuguese, Russian, and Japanese. As such, within a year’s time, while the bulk of the advertising will focus on English speakers, we will also have ads in eight of the top ten most spoken languages in the world, ensuring a global reach that vastly improves the likelihood of gaining new subscribers. Congruent with this effort, of course, will be website enhancements to ensure potential subscribers across all target languages are able to read the site, and subscribe accordingly.
We will run 2-3 television ads quarterly (which will double as internet video ads as well), with 3-4 radio ads in the same time span. Our internet banner campaign will aim to partner with such prominent music based website as; RollingStone.com, MTV.com, BET.com, HipHopDx.com, and several others. These banners will run monthly. Perhaps most importantly, our social media campaign will run weekly across major platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Our social media director will blast Tidal ads, special promotional opportunities for both existing and new customers, and engage users via question and answer posts, at times in conjunction with exclusive Tidal artists. Given the cost of social media advertising is low, relative to other advertising media, we will aim to post daily. This will ensure the continuity of brand visibility and drive new subscriber growth.
Budget Matrix – Year 1
Medium / Quarter
|Traditional Radio Ads||Satellite Radio Ads||Broadcast / Cable TV Ads||
|$13,000 base + $750 bonus|
|$13,000 base + $750 bonus|
|$13,000 base + $750 bonus|
|$13,000 base + $750 bonus|
|Total||$90,000||$32,500||$1,700,000||$36,000||$52,000 – $55,000|
Note: Above budget does not include the production of the commercials and the cost of the film crews, actors, actresses, and celebrity artists needed to film the commercials. We estimate the total yearly costs for all commercials to be upwards of $2,500,000.
Explanation of Budget
Given that music enthusiasts listen to all music platforms, including both traditional and satellite radio, we have deemed radio ads critical to the success of Tidal’s marketing campaign. FitSmallBusiness.com reports that traditional radio ads in major markets such as New York and Los Angeles costs as much of $8,000 weekly, for rougly 20 spots running during desirable times of day, with the small market ad prices as low as $500 weekly (Prosser, 2013). The campaign must start strongly, which is why we’ve budgeted the most radio ad money for the first quarter in larger markets, with each following quarter having half the previous quarter’s radio budget. $4,000 weekly (10 ads per week, large market) will be spent in Q1, while $2,000 weekly (split large and small markets) will be spent in Q2, $1,000 weekly (split large and small markets) in Q3, and $500 weekly (small market only) in Q4.
EzineArticles.com quotes smaller market satellite ads for as low as $50 per commercial while spots during more popular shows with more listeners as much as several hundreds of dollars per commercial (Wincherster, 2012). As such, the campaign will follow a similar approach with the satellite radio advertising budget as with that of the traditional radio format. $15,000 will be spent during Q1, with $10,000 in Q2, $5,000 in Q3, and $2,500 in Q4. From a television ad standpoint, our focus will be on national tv ads during the first quarter of the campaign, with a mix of cable and broadcast tv ads run in Q2 and Q3, and strictly cable ads by Q4. AZCentral reports that on average, major stations such as Fox and CBS charge roughly $200,000 per 30 second spot, while the top cable stations charge closer to $15,000 on average for similar spots (Severson, 2012). As such, the bulk of the broadcast advertising will be spent at the beginning of the campaign, to ensure a strong impact initially, with recurring ads then running on music based channels such as MTV and BET for the remainder of the year.
AZCentral also reports online advertising “content curation, which could include blog posts, web-based articles and other web content, can cost $6,000 to $12,000 per year” with pay-per-click ads costing on average of 84 cents a click (Severson, 2012). Given that Tidal is an online streaming service, our budget will remain consistent and robust throughout the year. Lastly, we will hire a social media manager to run the social media campaigning throughout the course of the year. Given PayScare reports the average social media manager salary in the United States to be at just under $47,000, and we want someone who feels appreciated and as such will take the job seriously, we will budget out a $52,000 per year salary for the social media manager, with quarterly incentives based around number of followers and online engagement metrics that could push the yearly total up to $55,000.
Ultimately, we feel that it is important for the campaign to start strongly, thereby creating an impactful front-end buzz that we will work to maintain throughout the course of the year. As such, the bulk of the radio and television budget is front-end heavy, with Q1 and Q2 being critical as far as brand visibility and overall reach. The online and social media campaigning however, needs to not only complement the initial TV and radio push, but also support brand strengthening and reach initiatives thoroughly and consistently throughout the course of the year. As such, whereas the TV and radio ads will lessen in Q3 and Q4, the online marketing initiatives will remain consistent and robust throughout the year. The end goal of this marketing campaign will be a heavy push on the front-end supplemented with consistent back-end support, ultimately resulting in a stronger brand and a significant increase in subscriber rates.
Tidal Account Team
The Tidal Account Team will consist of an account manager, a creative director, a director of media planning, a research director, and a social media director. She/he will be a task-oriented individual who possesses exemplary organization skills, delegates and communicates effectively both verbally and in written form. The account manager will be the primary person in charge of overseeing the team and ensuring all advertising and marketing initiatives are effectively streamlined, executed, and meet Tidal’s expectations. She/he will also act as a liaison between Tidal leadership and the account team. Additionally, the account manager will be responsible for understanding Tidal’s business model & advertising needs, developing and overseeing advertising and marketing strategies based on those needs, and will represents Tidal’s point of view in all advertising and marketing initiatives. Lastly, the account manager will evaluate overall campaign performance, recommending and instituting improvements and adjustments where necessary based on said campaign performance, including but not limited to budgetary, strategic, and personnel considerations.
The creative director will report directly to the account manager. She/he will be a creative inclined individual who coordinates well with other and communicates effectively. Her/his primary focus will be to develop and oversee both the creation & implementation of radio, television, & online advertising spots. She/he will both supervise and work in tandem with the social media director to ensure social media marketing initiatives align with the larger campaign strategy and overall client needs. The creative director will provide weekly reports to the accounting manager focused on evaluating the effectiveness of all advertising initiatives and ensuring all messaging strategies align with Tidal’s wants and needs. The creative director will make amendment recommendations where necessary to the account manager, and upon approval, will drive those changes to ensure specific advertising initiatives are enhanced and optimized to better meet Tidal’s demands.
The research director will report to the account manager and will be both a metrics and task-oriented individual who communicates well with others and has strong analytical skills. She/he will be responsible for gathering market data and prioritizing market segments so as to ensure Tidal advertising spots are optimally aligned to reach specified target markets. She/he will analyze these market environments to best understand the wants and needs of streaming service consumers. The research director will pool this data and make recommendations to both the account manager and research director on how best to align specific advertising spots with strategic goals based on given market information.
The social media director will report to and work in conjunction with the creative director to build and execute social media strategies that align with the larger campaign goals. She/he will be well versed in web design and overall internet use, a strong web communicator, engaging, and able to “think outside the box.” The social media director’s responsibilities call for determining which platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, etc…) are optimal for consumer outreach strategies, messaging and audience identification, and to create, publish & share daily content (text posts, Tidal based meme posts, pictures, and videos) designed to establish lasting connections with existing and potential consumers and to encourage follower engagement. The social media director will build and optimize pages within each platform so as to increase Tidal’s brand visibility, coordinating with Tidal exclusive artists where necessary to facilitate live video feeds and question and answer sessions so as to further bridge the gap between fans and artists. She/he will also capture and analyze social media metrics so as to develop effective strategies to identify cross-platform promotional opportunities.
In order to guarantee campaign effectiveness and ensure strategies and initiatives are both current and aligned with changing industry and economic conditions, both the account manager and the creative director will compile weekly reports measuring the successes (or failures) of specific campaigns (i.e. radio spots, social media outreach, etc…). They will use that data to compile monthly status reports on the effectiveness of the campaign as a whole, making recommendations for improvement where necessary. The account manager will task the media planning and the research directors to identify changes in both market and industry trends that adversely affect current initiatives. Also, the media planning and research directors will identify industry and market trends that present opportunities for the account team. As such, the account manager’s monthly reporting will identify areas where the account team is underutilizing resources. Accordingly, she/he will enact strategic changes to optimize these opportunities. Strong data gathering and reporting combined with a careful and collaborative analysis of that information will ensure that the campaign’s overall effectiveness remains optimal through any economic and/or market shifts that may occur.
With that said, the Tidal account team is encouraged by the prospects of securing the company’s status as the premier, high-end, music streaming service in the industry. The team’s multi-media advertising efforts when combined with a strong focus on increasing brand visibility and strengthening Tidal’s relationship with its consumer base will generate intrigue and excitement among music streamers who’ve yet to decide what platform best fits their wants and needs. We are confident that this proposed campaign will ensure that Tidal’s subscriber base and market share increase by 10-15% within a year’s time. Please review appendices A and B for samples of a proposed radio spot and web banner designed to help achieve our stated goals.
Appendix A – Radio Spot
Product: Subscription-based music streaming service
Title: Free Your Mind and Your Ears With Tidal
Length: 30 seconds
Writer: Ivan De Jesus
Medium: Radio (both traditional and satellite)
MUSIC: Instrumental for “Freedom” by Beyoncé plays throughout, building slowly in volume as below script is read by female announcer.
As female announcer concludes script, the music reaches its crescendo. commercial concludes with Beyoncé singing the chorus:
“Freedom! freedom! I can’t move! Freedom! Freedom! cut Me loose! freedom! freedom! where are you? ‘Cause I need freedom too!”
ANNCR: (Recited roughly 10 seconds into the instrumental – performed boldly, with emphasis on “AS LOUD AS I WANT” and “FREE YOUR MIND AND YOUR EARS WITH TIDAL.”)
Are you sick of being constricted by other streaming services? Is your musical experience confined by pretenders who boast more bark than bite? Yeah, I thought so. Because I used to be too. I couldn’t wait for the CD version of Kanye’s The Life of Pablo or Beyoncé’s Lemonade to hit the shelves, and let’s face it, who buys CDs anymore? That’s why I made the switch to Tidal. And now, I’m free to listen to whatever I want, whenever I want, AS LOUD AS I WANT! So what are you waiting for? FREE YOUR MIND AND YOUR EARS WITH TIDAL.”
SFX: Celebratory crowd noise as above script concludes AND BEYONCÉ’S chorus comes in as noted above. Fades to end.
Appendix B – Tidal Web Banner
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