• About Tom Dougherty

    Tom Dougherty CEO, Stealing Share

    Tom Dougherty is the President and CEO of Stealing Share, Inc., and has helped national and global brands such as Lexus, IKEA and Tide steal market share over his 25-year career.

    An often-quoted source on business and brands, he has been featured recently by the New York Times and CNN, discussing topics ranging from television to Apple to airlines.

    Tom also regularly speaks at conferences as a keynote and break-out speaker. To find out more on inviting him to your speaking engagement and view a video of him speaking, click here.

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Tidal failure, brand positioning

The Tidal failure has become a case study in thinking inside out, failing to understand your customer and even failing to target the right customer.

Tidal, the brainchild of Jay Z, tried to separate itself from the other offerings by offering a streaming solution that allows for streaming of CD quality FLAC music. But its main goal has been to change how artists get paid for their songs. So for the better sound quality, music videos and editorial, the monthly fee is $20. That’s $10 more per month than any other streaming service.

The difference in sound quality compared to a service like Spotify is quite amazing. But you can only appreciated it if you are listening with good headphones or speakers. For most, the price will be prohibitive even with the amazing sound quality.

Coupled with its misguided brand launch, it has predictably failed.

Today, it fell out of the top 700 on the iTunes apps chart.

This is who Tidal was for.
This is who Tidal was for.

Let’s face it; the reality is that people can now get most of the music they want for free. YouTube, Spotify Free, Pandora and others offer free solutions with an ad thrown in every once in a while. Amazon Prime music is free for those of us who are Prime members.

The biggest problem? Who Tidal was for – the musicians.

The brand Jay Z and Co. created is a larger hurdle to prospective customers than the cost. The Tidal failure happened because it positioned itself as the music streaming service for the artists. It didn’t even consider customers. Its launch event was a stage of artists smiling in their $1,000 shoes and $25,000 watches. Tidal’s brand became about the people who are getting paid, not the listener.

Imagine a commercial for Nike that featured Mark Parker in his beautiful home, checking his stock portfolio, then playing golf at his country club, followed by the Nike logo.

Or a Walmart commercial with C. Douglas McMillon wearing his custom-made suit and sipping a martini on his patio then the Walmart: Save money. Live better logo. As I think about it, that’s my main beef with the Papa John’s ads with John Schnatter. Your brand is not about you. It’s about those you want to influence.

If we take that last statement and apply it to Tidal, Jay Z is brilliant – if he only wants to influence the musicians. Sure, he may have a larger stable of artists with more songs and more exclusive content but the artists are not paying the bills. You, me and the rest of the music listening consumers are. The positioning is just wrong. Tidal is simply not a brand for me because it is not about me.

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