Tidal and the Future of Music by Ben Thompson at Stratechery:
“The record labels also help make them so with the aforementioned marketing and promotion costs. This can be everything from getting artists booked on TV, featured in iTunes, or promoted on blogs, but the biggie, even in 2015, is getting artists on the radio. According to the Nielsen 2014 Year End Music Report radio remains the number one source of music discovery: an amazing 91.3% of the U.S. population listens to the radio at least once-a-week, and 51% of those surveyed based their buying decisions off of what they heard on the radio.”
Record labels still hold all the cards, even over a decade after the advent of Napster and iTunes. The labels are the arbiters of talent, taste, and trend, and their size enables them to place enough bets to continue getting one or two winners each time. And the artists who have signed with Tidal are all to one degree or another beholden to their labels for their unique skills if not their capital.
Thompson nails his appraisal of the music industry and lays out why Tidal may prove to be anything but.