Companies providing music on a subscription basis have been rapidly snatching up music lovers everywhere. Spotify, Rdio, Deezer and Rhapsody are just a few of the many online music streaming services available to consumers. The majority of the services operate on both free and subscription platforms. Spotify, for example, offers a free subscription that includes advertisements and limited on-demand music playing and a $9.99 subscription, which allows the user to play any song in their library on demand, absent of any advertisments. While these services are excellent for the consumer whose only other legal alternative is to pay $0.99+ per song, they have been protested by multiple musicians. If you use Spotify, you may have noticed that Taylor Swift’s music is no longer accessible. As a protest against the free version of Spotify, Taylor Swift has joined a growing number of artists who are pulling their music from the libraries of free online streaming services. Unfair compensation and the devaluation of music are just a few of the reasons given by these artists for their withdrawal.
In the wake of these protests a new streaming service has emerged called “Tidal.” Tidal, owned by a company controlled by the hip-hop artist Jay-Z, seeks to restore music’s integrity and fairly compensate musicians for their work. Each musician who signs on with Tidal will be given a percentage of the company. Current owners include Kanye West, Beyonce, Jason Aldean, Jack White, J. Cole, Calvin Harris, Chris Martin and a slew of other celebrity musicians.
Tidal, though not yet as a large as Spotify, boasts a fairly large, ever growing catalogue of music. This service is groundbreaking as it is the first streaming service to offer hi-def musical playback. Tidal’s competitors only offer mp3 quality playback which removes portions of the track’s sound in order to condense the size of the file. In an effort to fulfill its goal of upholding the integrity of music, Tidal provides music with the same quality as a CD. Tidal also promises to be the first to release songs from the albums of its impressive list of owners. In addition to high quality sound and new releases, Tidal also showcases music videos and “expertly curated editorial.” All of these services operate on a web-based platform very similar to Spotify. It is easy to navigate, intuitive and offers full offline access.
For the premium service (which lacks the hi-def quality) Tidal charges $9.99 per month and for users who desire the “lossless” (high-def) quality, a subscription is $19.99 per month. Both of these subscriptions offer a free trial period.
Tidal is a unique idea and certainly has a lot of promise. Time will tell if the service is able to actually accomplish its goals of fairly rewarding musicians and restoring the integrity of music. In addition to these honorable goals, the excellent sound quality and editorial are huge draws and help to separate Tidal from the competition. To experience Tidal for yourself, head on over to Tidal.com, explore the site, read the editorials and experience music in hi-def. You may never go back to Spotify again.