How do you compete with an established market leader while still charging twice as much as they do for the same service? Exclusive content. At least, that’s what Jay-Z thinks he can do with his new Spotify competitor, Tidal. The problem is that this is the Internet, which means all of that elusive content can be pirated and the money you save by not buying a 1-month Tidal subscription can get you two months of Spotify.
Why is Jay-Z’s Tidal music service going to go down in flames? For many, many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that it’s charging twice as much as top rival Spotify for a monthly subscription. Business Insider notices that U.K. pop star Lilly Allen this week made some smart points about how both Tidal’s high subscription price and its promotion of exclusive content will likely result in music piracy increasing rather than decreasing. “Hosting exclusive consent from the biggest stars on the planet on a paying platform: while I agree with its intention, I fear it will send people back to pirate/torrent sites,” she said. This is broadly true: Whenever you take a commodity that’s easy to pirate and then make it both more expensive and harder to get through legitimate means, the chances that people will pirate it increase significantly. Acclaimed music critic Bob Lefsetz recently also suggested that Tidal’s reliance on exclusive content could come back to bite it because “the iTunes Store wouldn’t promote your new release” and “that’s where your money is today.”