The new Tidal?
28 December 2020-
Yesterday, US rapper and businessman Meek Mill announced he and a few fellow musicians were working on a new streaming platform. The question is — will it be the new Spotify, Tidal, or something else?
To be clear, this new platform project is all but Trump-esque in the details we currently know about it: they amount to a series of tweets posted by Meek Mill and seemingly confirmed by the other musicians involved, Lil Baby, Lil Durk and 21 Savage. What these messages explain is that the little group of rising rap superstars is intent on creating a new music platform, which would allow artists to receive a greater revenue share, while also favoring “black wealth”, i.e. specifically promoting performers within the African-American community, which happens to be the inventor and most prominent producer of Hip Hop and RnB music to this day.
While this all sounds very interesting, everyone was quick to compare this project (or, rather, this idea) to that of other — and greater — rap superstar Jay Z and his Tidal platform. That project, which publicly launched back in 2015 with the backing of many prominent artists, not all of them from the Hip Hop / RnB realm, famously struggled to scale, then and now. To date, figures on its user base, activity or revenue are not clearly known, which leads many to speculate the company is not in the most amazing of shapes, facing incredibly strong competition from the likes of Apple Music, Deezer and most notably Spotify.
However, although the comparison between Tidal and Mill’s project is not absurd, it is worth noting that the rapper specified what his actual product strategy is — and it’s not exactly what you might expect. Instead of going face to face with the likes of Spotify, the idea here would be to develop a platform which works with Spotify rather than against it. This in effect resembles more the business model of French-based online music distributor Believe Music and its Brooklyn-based TuneCore product than that of a pure streaming platform. In other words, the strategy here is more about distributing music than streaming it per se. And that would not be such a bad idea: Believe is one of the fastest rising businesses in the industry, now developing new services to better cater to artists — including original production…
Let us see how far Mill is willing to go — and capable of going — with his project. Either way, it will be most interesting to follow… and hopefully fruitful for music as a whole!