Tidal is the new kid on the block when it comes to music streaming. It was launched in 2014 by the Swedish company, Aspiro. But in 2015 it was purchased by Jay-Z himself. Tidal prides itself on both quality and quantity, with music from three major record labels and dozens of indies. But, Tidal does things a bit differently. Jay-Z shirks the contemporary notion that everything you want from the entertainment world you can get for free. Tidal will actually cost you money.
There are two monthly membership tiers: $9.99 for the basic service, and $19.99 for “lossless” sound. What’s lossless sound you ask? Basically, Tidal promises that what you’re hearing has been perfectly reconstructed, mirroring the original sound before it was compressed.
Is Tidal going to be the Netflix of the music industry? Hard to say. It’s going to take more than a fantastic music video from the likes of Beyonce and Nicki Minaj, and a little love from Madonna to get my generation grabbing for their credit cards. Netflix revolutionized the television industry by creating straight to Netflix series across a wide range of genres, each time blowing it out of the water.
While it’s still early days for Tidal, they are getting some serious flack from mainstream media about the idea of a monthly subscription. Sure, paying for music in the form of CDs used to be the norm, today it’s only the hardcore music fans that choose to pay for premium service. Spotify, Pandora, SoundCloud all offer both monthly memberships, but importantly they also offer “freemium” services.
Not Tidal though. It’s pay or nothing with Tidal. There is no trial period with Tidal. Apparently they are that convinced that you will love it. This is quite the gamble.
And they’re feeling the burn. Right now,, Tidal doesn’t even make it on to iTunes Top 700 Apps Chart. Ouch.
Tidal is experiencing a wave (pun intended) of criticism throughout the Entertainment industry. The most damning criticism of them all being that Tidal is simply a platform for greedy performers. As it stands, artists only receive about 6.8% of all the royalties from their sweet beats. Meanwhile, record labels, publishers, and songwriters share the majority. Tidal isn’t going to revolutionize the royalty system, it’s just going to annoy the masses.
As of March 2015, there are over 580,000 users paying monthly for the privilege of using Tidal in 31 countries. The only way Tidal is going to survive is if they continue to release exclusive content. With any luck, Beyonce and Nicki Minaj’s “Feeling Myself” is just a taste of what’s to come.
While I’m not going to hedge any bets on Tidal’s long term success, I will certainly keep an eye on Tidal exclusive perks in the near future.