Turning the Tide: The Newest Trend in Music Streaming
HiFi: the buzzword in music streaming right now. Who or what do we have to thank for the emergence of this word into our vernacular? That would be rapper Jay Z, and his new streaming site TIDAL. The service brands itself as the only by-artists, for-artists streaming platform, promising to better compensate musicians, offer exclusive content all while satiating the need of music aficionados for high-quality tunes.
Since launching, the service has had a wave of praise, resentment and controversy from artists, critics and listeners alike. So, is TIDAL set to change up the game? Strap in, that’s what you’re about to find out.
TIDAL For All:
One thing is clear, Jay Z wants to challenge subscription powerhouses like Spotify and Pandora. A few weeks back the rap mogul/music producer/business tycoon/(what isn’t this man?) took the stage with a genre-spanning armada of 16 music heavyweights including: Kanye West, Madonna, Jack White, deadmau5, Jason Aldean, Daft Punk, Beyoncé and more, all of which touted ownership of, and belief in, TIDAL.
Hov’s sixteen musical disciples even signed a declaration of music independence of sorts. Check out the verbiage #TIDALFORALL.
Spectacle aside, how much coinage does an artist-owned service like this set you back? Well, TIDAL charges $9.99 for a Premium account and a bold $19.99 for their HiFi quality service. There’s that word again — so what is this HiFi stuff exactly?
High (Fidelity) Tides:
TIDAL boasts lossless file encoding, a non-compressed format reminiscent of a time before MP3s and iPods. But TIDAL is more than just high-quality tunes, Jay Z and company also promise exclusive content and, at the cornerstone of TIDAL, support for your favorite artists with larger royalties. As it stands, it is rumored that up to 75% of subscription fees go back to artists.
Despite the music quality, exclusivity and artist patronage, TIDAL’s opposition has been a vocal one. Artists and bands such as Death Cab for Cutie and Lily Allen claim that TIDAL focuses too much on superstars. TIDAL, critics argue, makes the rich artists richer while undermining the little guy trying to make a name in an unforgiving industry. On top of this, the arguments leverage the high price point as being a poor incentive to dissuade torrenters and mass exoduses to pirating sites. TIDAL appears to be a last, desperate push to put another paywall on an industry that cannot be subjugated. To get a bit philosophical with it…
I’d be remiss to write a blog on TIDAL without giving it a go, and consequently, I’m about two weeks into my 30-day free trial. My first impressions: no doubt it sounds amazing. But, any better than what I’ve heard before? It’s hard to tell. Maybe my ears are not refined enough, but I imagine any quality differences being indiscernible to the average listener. At times I think I hear new things in songs I’ve heard a thousand times thanks to the HiFi, and that’s a refreshing experience. I’m not quite a TIDAL convert yet, but I still have 15 days of free-trial action left!
Whatever side you may fall, check out the free trial and form your own viewpoints. Have an opinion concerning TIDAL? Will you depart with your allegiances to Spotify, Pandora, Rdio or others for something new?
Sound off and join the conversation by posting in the comments section below!