Industry Talk: TIDAL’s Sveinung Rindal

In our latest Industry Insider feature we talk to Sveinung Rindal of recently US/UK launched lossless streaming service TIDAL.

Skrevet av Rebeca 14.11.2014

Sveinung Rindal

(Update: Rindal left Tidal for Stageway in 2016. Since 2018 he has been country manager for The Orchard)

Norwegian streaming service WiMP recently launched its lossless-quality offering TIDAL in the US and UK.

We caught up with WiMP/Tidal´s Head of Editorial Sveinung Rindal this week to find out how the company´s UK/US launch has gone down, what he can learn US university students and what Norwegian acts are the mainstay of his WiMP offline playlists.

Sveinung, you recently went over to NYC to lecture at the New York University with a talk titled ‘A Retail Look At The New Streaming Reality – From traditional storefronts to the new digital market place’. What was it like to make the transition from WiMP´s Head of Editorial into an university lecturer?

– It was really rewarding. And fun! To meet genuinely interested music/arts-students is always rewarding, but to be an NYU student is a totally different ball-game compared to my years at (Norway’s) Bø University College. The students attend mandatory classes, and were very active and reflected during the sessions. Suffice to say, it was a honorable assignment to be a conveyor of knowledge and experience for the students.

Norway – miles ahead

If you are to make a comparison between the Norwegian and US streaming markets; can one still claim that Norway is ahead of the US in terms of streaming music service adaptation?

– I think it’s safe to say that the Norwegian streaming market is miles ahead of the US one – something that the market players fully realize. This is much more of an issue of an incorporated system than pure knowledge. In general, I’d say that the people I met in NY, artists and record labels alike, are pleased with the development and have clear expectations for things to happen in the marketplace.

With several years’ worth of experience on the Norwegian streaming market behind you, would you say that you and WiMP have gained knowledge that could prove valuable for the US music industry?

– Over the five years we’ve spent working on WiMP, I feel that we can say that we’ve learnt much that has a solid value when we are entering into new markets. USA is a new market for us, but all sales reports indicate that streaming is strengthening its position in the marketplace against falling physical sales and also diminishing downloads. Through WiMP HiFi, we’ve managed to create a unique product that no other player can match, and which we, in turn, can now launch in new markets as TIDAL. On an editorial level, we’ve come a long way since the start up – what we are now presenting through TIDAL represents, in my opinion, a high journalistic standard.

WiMP recently launched the international version of its HiFi streaming service; TIDAL. How have the initial weeks in the marketplace unfolded?

– We´re really satisfied! PR-wise, we´ve been greeted with a reception that has no comparison to other Norwegian products launched abroad – we´re seeing customers flocking to the service in the initial two weeks on the market. Still, we´re yet to roll out major campaigns with the biggest HiFi companies and much work remains to be done. It´s time to get down to business – the work has barely begun.What main user groups are you targeting in the UK and US?– We´re aiming at a relatively mature, conscious and interested user group that is willing to pay up for high quality. We do believe that TIDAL is perfect for the focused listener, one that is also likely to savour music on the go or while doing other tasks.

Lossless boosts niche listening

What´s next for TIDAL? Are you targeting new territories or new services for the customer base?

– We will roll out TIDAL in new territories, but we are currently focusing on the US and UK. The main priorities for us now are new deals and integration of TIDAL in HiFi equipment (such as Sonos and Electrocompaniet). We have also landed exciting editorial partnerships with FADER and Talkhouse parallel to teaming up with freelance journalists all over the world. We´re in for a wealth of strong editorial content in TIDAL and WiMP in the near future.

Earlier this year, WiMP announced that niche genres had gained a higher share of the overall streaming market via the HiFi services compared to the company´s regular services. Is this still the case and does the same trend apply to TIDAL on an international basis?– This is definitely a trend that we´re seeing clearly through TIDAL too but we are still at a too early stage in the development to come to any clear conclusions here. Personally, I believe that niche genres will make gains exponentially as services as TIDAL and WiMP grow in the years ahead. This is partly due to the fact that we are actively working on repertoire that is not necessarily mainstream and partly credited to the overall rise of quality as a key user prerequisite. Listener quality time is an additional parameter that comes into play here, as opposed to the streaming services initial advantages as a ‘party DJ tool’ – which was pretty much how the services established themselves some five years ago.

How do you see the domestic streaming market developing in the near future? Will we see more emphasis on editorial content, a higher degree of converging with other services such as music video streaming or other offerings in order to keep up the consumption?

– In the long term, I believe that the editorial content offered by the services will depend on the customer groups in question. If you forget that you´re actually selling music here, you can easily retort to cheap tricks resulting in user recommendations that might not hit the mark. If you base the service´s music recommendation and dissemination on knowledge and quality, you´ll might lose someone along the way, but the bond to those who appreciate the service offered will be even stronger. Music videos are already a part of our portfolio, and will play a more prominent role in WiMP and TIDAL in time. We are also focusing on being present at festivals and venues where the music is performed live. The live music experience is a form of expression that is becoming increasingly important in the interplay between customers and artists, and we are mirroring this trend through our services.

Any personal favourites in the WiMP/TIDAL catalogue that you would like to highlight?– Ask me about Norwegian favs and you´ve got me going. I´m a notorious record collector and is genuinely into the Norwegian music scene, but, sadly, can´t find the time to see enough concerts with Norwegian acts these days. I have to thank by:Larm and the Øya Festival for giving me the live music experiences that I miss out on the rest of the year. If you still haven´t heard Silja Sol and Torgeir Waldemar you´ll do yourself a favour by listening to them – Röyksopp, Sondre Lerche and Marit Larsen´s fantastic new albums are other outings that are securely downloaded to my offline mobile playlist.Any Norwegian bands or performers that you will see live this autumn/winter?– I´m hoping that I´ll get to see Kygo in (major Oslo venue) Spektrum, mainly because I´m curious to see how things will turn out for him there. I also caught the live shows of Todd Terje and Röyksopp and Lindstrøm´s DJ set at Øya – I´ve got a soft spot for electronica. I have yet to see Aurora Aksnes live, though – I´ll see to it so that something is done with that.