Jay Z’s big plan to turn things around at Tidal, his embattled music streaming service, seems to be faltering.
Earlier this month, Tidal got two huge boosts from exclusives with Rihanna and Kanye. The albums catapulted Tidal up the app download charts. It went from not even charting on App Annie before the lead-up to Rihanna’s “Anti,” to sitting at the No. 1 spot after Kanye’s “The Life of Pablo.”
The chart below shows how Tidal’s rank in the U.S. downloads charts has changed over time. The blue line shows how its rank has changed relative to all other apps, while the red line charts it against only other “music” apps.
This lead to discussions about whether exclusives from blockbuster artists, secured with things like getting equity in Tidal, could help Tidal compete with heavyweight music streaming services like Spotify. Spotify even came out with a statement against exclusives, calling them “bad for fans” and “bad for artists.”
But now it seems Tidal’s success might have been temporary. The app has slipped to No. 60 on the US downloads charts (and No. 7 in the music category). It has fallen behind Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio, SoundCloud, and YouTube Music.
It is holding better in the top-grossing rankings, which cuts out free apps, but it has still slipped behind Spotify to No.9 — Spotify is No. 2.
Given how quickly Tidal is tumbling down the charts, a strategy of using exclusives to continually pump up subscriptions seems like a tall order.
But the real test will be how many of its free trial users the service can convert to paying customers.
Before the Rihanna and Kanye bumps, Tidal had endured a slew of high-profile departures in the months since it was relaunched. The service had lost two CEOs, its chief investment officer, the US marketing manager, and the senior vice president of label and artist relations.
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