Home / Opinions / Tidal Music Streaming Service: The story so far...

Tidal Music Streaming Service: The story so far...

by

Tidal Music Streaming Service: The story so far...

With the #TIDAL4ALL hashtag trending all over Twitter, the lossless streaming music service has officially re-launched with the help of Hip Hop icon Jay Z and friends. Here's why a wave of artists from Madonna to Usher are showing their support for Tidal.

You may have noticed that a new music subscription service named Tidal has been in the news recently. Securing the high-profile backing of a hip-hop megastar will have that effect. Jay Z recently purchased the Scandinavian company behind Tidal, Aspiro, for a cool $56 million.

The service ihas now been relaunched heralding a serious assault on Spotify's imperious position at the head of this young industry.

So what exactly is Tidal? Why did Jay Z spend so munch money on it? And most importantly of all, what does it have that Spotify (and its other music subscription services) doesn't?

Tidal is already available

The first think to note here is that, despite the re-launch event, Tidal is already in operation as a music subscription service for iOS, Android, and PC.

It is quite new though, having initially launched in the US and the UK back in October. Tidal has since expanded to 31 countries around the world, with six more planned.

It was recently estimated that Tidal had around 580,000 paying customers. That's pretty far off the 15 million paying Spotify customers out there, admittedly, but then Spotify has been around for seven years now.

SEE ALSO: What is Hi-Res Audio?

Tidal

It's for audiophiles

Tidal's biggest point of differentiation over Spotify, Google Play Music, and the like is its focus on the quality of the music - and we're not talking about subjective taste.

With a Tidal subscription, you can stream high-quality 16-bit 1411 kbps FLAC audio files - also known as a "lossless" format due to its lack of heavy compression - for "a fully detailed, richer sound."

It offers much better quality than the MP3 and AAC files (which typically sample at 320 kbps) provided by other streaming and even MP3 services. It is, in fact, comparable with CD quality.

Library and extras

If you're expecting Tidal's library to be limited with this focus on high quality, you'd be mistaken. There are 25 million tracks available on the service, which is only 5 million or so short of Spotify and Google Play Music.

In addition to having plenty of lossless tracks, Tidal offers 75,000 High Definition music videos.

It also has a high amount of curated content, which goes beyond simple playlists to include artist interviews and features from trusted music journalists.

SEE ALSO: Best music streaming service compared

Taylor Swift

Price

In recent weeks it's been reported that famous Spotify-hater Taylor Swift has agreed to put her music on Tidal. Do we detect double standards here, or perhaps a little wheeling and dealing from showbiz pal Jay Z?

Neither, actually. Tidal takes a very different approach to funding to Spotify. There's no free tier - you either sign up and pay $9.99/£9.99 for a standard quality subscription service (much like Spotify) or you pay $19.99/£19.99 per month for the lossless service.

There is no ad-funded alternative. The result is that artists like Swift don't have to give their music away for free.

SEE ALSO: Best Music Streaming Service: Which one to download?

Jay Z

What's next for Tidal?

Well, there wasn't much to get excited about at the Tidal live stream event where the many high profile artists backing the service lined up to announce a "commitment to a new direction for the music industry from both a creative and business perspective."

It seems as if the emphasis for the Tidal relaunch was on what it can do for artists rather than what it can do for subscribers. Jay Z has been drumming up support for the service among his pals, with unified tweets from the likes of Kanye West, Arcade Fire, Madonna, and (of course) Beyonce all signalling a new, artist-led method of offering streaming music.

Rumour has it that Jay Z intends to give more favourable rates to artists on Tidal than they get with other subscription services, which could prove trouble for Spotify - particularly if it leads to more high profile Swift-like defections.

Sonos has also become the latest company to announce that Tidal is now available through its service worldwide after the beta trial ended in December last year. Expect the places to get a lossless audio fix to grow over the coming months.

Micke Hellström

March 31, 2015, 3:08 pm

"There is no ad-funded alternative. The result is that artists like Swift don't have to give their music away for free."

Don't agree with your logic here. The person itself doesn't have to pay his/her money for listening to the music, but it doesn't mean it's free music. It is payed for by the advertising company.

And Taylor Swift has double standards for sure. As yourself wrote in November 2014: "Swift herself has equated music streaming with piracy and file sharing as a reason for record sales dropping, and believes that the price paid to artists for their music is too low"

Streaming is streaming, regardless of the provider. Yes, Tidal is probably going to pay her some more money, but it still going to be like a cent* every time somebody listen to one of her songs, just like Spotify. Spotify claims that they payed her record label $2 millions for 12 months. It is like 16,7 million songs per month from 15 million paying subscribers. I guess she doesn't going to be played that many times on Tidal because they have less subscribers. It was some other kind of a strategic action to move to Tidal.

* = Simple math. If a person have to pay $199 per month and are consuming, say 3000 songs a month, it is 6.7 cents a song. And providing a service like Spotify or Tidal is not cheap. There are hardware and software costs, employees salaries, office rents and probably the owners want to make some profit to. Can the artist really get more than a cent per song?

EuroAnchor

March 31, 2015, 3:56 pm

If $1 = £1, how many dollars will they let me swap?

kerton

April 1, 2015, 6:15 pm

"There is no ad-funded alternative. The result is that artists like Swift don't have to give their music away for free."

Well I can only hope I don't have to hear her on rotation on the radio anymore then.

Stefani

April 3, 2015, 10:19 pm

Why can't we choose to have ads or not? For some, it's worth listening to commercials instead of paying just as choosing to listen to the radio or buy the CD in the past. As for CDs, we can still buy the complete album or pay for the service that provides the full album. The only people who are upset are the artists which I would like to understand the full story. I'm afraid it only might come down to how much money goes in their pockets.

Lulu Livingstone

April 19, 2015, 11:40 pm

Couldn't be more happier with my experience with Tidal. I've used up all my sources when it comes to music. Any music streaming site or company selling music, I'v tried it and/or spent money on it all. Tidal has proven to be the best thus far and I have no regrets on spending $10 for something of great quality. The videos, movies, and music I receive through Tidal I something spectacular. I am a HUGE music and movie fanatic, so experiencing my artist in this way is thrilling. Before I felt like I had no choice but to dump my money towards something i personally enjoyed, buy now I know believe my money is going towards a greater movement. Thank you music gods for Tidal!!!!

Debra Martina

April 20, 2015, 8:22 pm

Im in love with the What's New section of Tidal, its always updating...About to extend my 30 Day free trial!! PS. i hear they are making phone calls..Can Beyonce give me a ring? I'm still supporting regardless of answer;)

comments powered by Disqus