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The Perils of Brand Heroism: Jay Z's Misstep with TIDAL

Monday, April 24, 2023

Gordie Tamayo

In 2015, rapper and serial entrepreneur Jay Z launched TIDAL, a music streaming platform that promised high-quality sound and exclusive content. However, the way the platform was introduced to the public turned out to be a major misstep for the brand. Jay Z and the 16 other artists such as Beyoncé, Calvin Harris, Kanye, Alicia Keys, and Jason Aldean who signed exclusive deals for equity in the company, positioned themselves as the heroes, putting their interests ahead of the customer's and creating a firestorm via social in the process. This approach proved to be a costly mistake for the brand and a lesson for others on the importance of putting the customer first.

The primary problem with the way TIDAL was positioned was that it was perceived as a platform for the elite, rather than the masses (see trailer below). Jay Z and the other artists positioned themselves as the saviors of the music industry, taking a stand against other streaming services like Spotify, which they argued were devaluing music. However, in doing so, they made the mistake of positioning themselves as the heroes, rather than the customers. This approach failed to resonate with consumers, who felt like they were being asked to pay more for the same music.

The backlash was swift and fierce, with many consumers taking to social media to voice their frustrations. The hashtag #TIDALFail began trending on Twitter, with users complaining about the high cost of the service and the lack of exclusive content. Even some of the artists who had signed exclusive deals with the platform, like Kanye West and Madonna, were criticized for their involvement.

The financial implications of this misstep were significant. In 2016, TIDAL reported losses of $28 million, with reports suggesting that the platform had failed to gain significant traction with consumers. In 2017, TIDAL was acquired by Sprint for $200 million, which was significantly less than the $600 million valuation the platform had been given just two years prior.

So what lessons can be learned from TIDAL's misstep? Firstly, it's important to understand that customers are the lifeblood of any brand. Without customers, there is no business. As such, it's essential to put the needs and wants of customers first. This means listening to their feedback, understanding their pain points, and delivering products and services that meet their needs.

Secondly, it's important to recognize that positioning a brand as the hero is a risky strategy. While it may be tempting to try to position a brand as the savior of an industry or a cause, it can often come across as self-serving and tone-deaf. Instead, brands should focus on telling stories that resonate with their customers, highlighting the benefits of their products and services in a way that speaks directly to their needs.

While the (re)launch of TIDAL is a cautionary tale for brands everywhere about the implications of alienating the very people they are hoping to attract, it's also a powerful lesson about why messaging and the customer's voice matters. For help on clarifying your brand message to best resonate with your audience, contact us today! 

TIDAL Promotional Trailer

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Hi, I'M Gordie Tamayo

Rule | Reign | Create

Thanks for visiting. I'm confident that you will find loads of value if you look around. Whether you are here to read a blog post, watch a video, or book time with me, my hope and expectation is that you are inspired in the process. I look forward to serving you.

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