Is Jay Z’s Tidal music service in Apple’s crosshairs? Will it make waves later on or will Apple turn it into just another wave in the ocean? According to music industry insiders Apple wants Tidal’s waves to weaken before it comes ashore and take a bite out of iTunes like Spotify. Apple does have something to gain from the failure of Jay Z’s music service. The tech giant has iTunes and Beats. But considering how small Tidal’s operation currently is compared to Apple, does iTunes really care to nip his bud or are the music insiders just being paranoid?
Their paranoia is apparently based on several factors. First is the Tidal App’s removal from Apple Store’s top 700 apps. It’s not easy to find in app listings under music unless you specifically search for it. But that could also easily mean that in Apple world, it’s not really that popular. But then again, any updates are immediately reflected in Google Play but not at the Apple Store.
The second sign is that Apple is putting some pressure on artists that signed up on Tidal; that iTunes will not be promoting these artists on iTunes’ featured listings which could really affect sales on the artist’s end. Apple doesn’t seem to mind in the short term. But it will only happen to Tidal artists if they submit exclusive tracks to the music service. Further proof of such a beatdown was when Rihanna released ‘American Oxygen’ on Tidal. ITunes allegedly scrambled the artist’s songs and were unavailable at times. Apple of course denies the allegations but with regards to removal from feature listings, it’s apparently within Apple’s operating procedure not to actively promote artists who are active in other music services. Tidal could do the same thing if the artist becomes more into iTunes.
Music distribution is a pretty cutthroat industry especially when it tries to compete for every spare dime due to rampant piracy. With iTunes and Apple’s acquisition of Beats, Apple could easily soften up its competition through partial denial of its services such as Apple Store downloads of competing music services and music downloads of artists who don’t play nice. When the competition is soft enough, then it’s time to dice. Such is a very hard allegation considering that doing so could land Apple in antitrust hearings.
Perhaps Tidal isn’t really as hot as it’s supposed to be and that it could be laying blame on Cupertino’s doorstep. Apple seems to be giving them enough reason to do so. But its founder Jay Z says that Tidal is doing as well as it should for a still fledgling music service. Spotify didn’t exactly get to where it’s at in one day. Tidal currently has over 770,000 subscribers since it started. The figure is very modest compared to Spotify’s 15 million but given the company’s age, it’s a fair number. Whether or not that number will increase would be up to the company, its artist stable and its offerings. Music has been a cutthroat industry even before online streaming. Success is still more about the talent and marketing and not about whether or not the competition is up to something.