The Disengaged UI/UX For Music Streaming Service
Tidal’s overall UI/UX can be described as modern, trendy, and dark-themed. Nothing is wrong with these attributes; in fact, they can be very effective. However, when you consider most everyday music listeners, there is a distinct difference between the brand and the everyday listeners. The dark-themed interface is simply not as encouraging as other clean, light-themed interfaces. I agree that the dark-theme worked well for the night time, but evening music is more of a social occasion. It usually happens in a bar, a lounge or a nightclub. We tend to listen to music on our own during the day time. I really hope the next UI/UX upgrade will brighten things up; it could brighten up the future for Tidal in doing so.
The Out-dated Customer Acquisition Model
One of the major challenges for Tidal to attract new users is the lack of free services. There is certainly value in high quality and ad free music streaming; however, these listeners are probably the subscribers of Spotify Premium or Pandora One. The market for people willing to pay for two streaming services is very small. The market for converting free listeners to paying listeners is tough to crack. Not to mention the fact that you cannot experience the Tidal service without a credit card. This is preventing other on-the-edge potential customers from experiencing the service. Tidal would be better off having a truly free trial or a free version.
The Wrong Brand Story
This is the most problematic issue for Tidal. The brand story is completely disengaging and off-putting to the general public. An engaging story needs 3 elements; a hero, a magical tool, and a villain. In Tidal’s case, they get two of them wrong: the hero and the villain.
Who is the hero? Tidal came out with the support of some of the most popular musicians. The story they tell to the public is that Tidal is different from the rest, because it gives the profit back to artists instead of major corporations. In this case, the heroes in the story are the musicians and artists. While that sounds like a good idea on the surface, it does not engage nor mobilize the public opinion. In fact, public perception is that the artists are already being overpaid. Is this perception true? It doesn’t matter. If the heroes of the story are Tidal’s customers and not the artists, it would be a much more convincing pitch.
Who is the villain? Every great story has a villain, the bad guy, the establishment, the dictator – whatever you want to name it. In this case, we can roughly guess that the villain is the record companies. The problem here is that the public doesn’t really look at record companies as the bad guys; at least this perception is not strong enough to influence any significant behavior change. Finding common enemies with the public perception is key in engaging with your target audience. If Tidal can clearly define its villain and the public can resonate with such a villain, then this platform can finally influence our behavior.
Of course, the above is my own opinion. I also think Tidal has a fighting chance in this music distribution market; however, they need to rethink their own brand story and step up their game in 2015.