|Developer(s)||Project Panther Ltd. (JAY Z)|
|Initial release||October 28, 2014|
Microsoft Windows |
|Alexa rank||5,784 (February 2016)|
Tidal is a subscription-based music streaming service that combines lossless audio and high definition music videos with curated editorial. The service has over 25 million tracks and 85,000 music videos. Tidal claims to pay the highest percentage of royalties to music artists and songwriters within the music streaming market. Tidal offers two digital music streaming services: Tidal Premium (lossy quality) and Tidal HiFi (lossless CD quality - FLAC-based 16-Bit/44.1 kHz). Tidal was launched in 2014 by Norwegian/Swedish public company Aspiro. It has distribution agreements with all of the three major labels, in addition to many indies. In the first quarter of 2015, the parent company Aspiro was acquired by Project Panther Ltd., which was dissolved on August 2, 2016 which was owned by Shawn "Jay Z" Carter.
Following the acquisition of Aspiro by Jay Z in March 2015, a mass-marketing campaign was introduced to relaunch Tidal. Multiple music artists changed their social media profiles design blue, and posted the phrase "#TIDALforAll" on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. A press conference took place on March 30, 2015, introducing sixteen music artists to the stage, including Jay Z, who were all co-owners and stakeholders in Tidal. The service was promoted as being the first artist-owned streaming service. Each artist publicly signed a declaration, which opened with: "Throughout history, every movement began with a few individuals banding together with a shared vision – a vision to change the status quo."
The relaunch of Tidal with the new artist-owned model were mostly panned by publications and fellow musicians alike. Some praised the impressive high fidelity, lossless audio quality, and the higher subscription fees which would result in higher royalties to the artists and songwriters, whilst others felt the high subscription fees and exclusive Tidal content from the artists involved could result in an increase of music piracy. As of March 2015, the service itself claims to have over 580,000 paying users after being integrated with its sister service, WiMP, as well as 17,000 using the high fidelity service. Tidal currently operates in 31 countries. As of July 2016, Tidal claims to now have 4.2 million paying subscribers.
Aspiro first launched the Tidal brand in the UK, the US, and Canada on October 28, 2014. The launch was supported by Sonos and 15 other home audio manufacturers as integrations partners. In January 2015, Tidal launched in five more European countries: Ireland, Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Since then, they have joined hands with Denon, combining their streaming technology with speakers from HEOS by Denon.
Aspiro was purchased by Project Panther Ltd. (owned by Jay Z) for SEK 466 million (USD $56.2 million) in January 2015. Before acquiring Aspiro, Jay Z stated in an interview with Billboard that he was willing to partner with other streaming services to carry out his vision. "We talked to every single service and we explored all the options," stated Jay Z, "But at the end of the day, we figured if we're going to shape this thing the way we see it, then we need to have independence. And that became a better proposition for us, not an easier one, mind you," he concluded.
On April 16, 2015 it came to public attention that Tidal was closing its original Aspiro offices in Stockholm, terminating the employment for all Swedish employees, including the current CEO Andy Chen. The company refused to comment on closing the offices, but confirmed that Andy Chen had been replaced as CEO by Peter Tonstad. In December 2015, Tidal appointed Jeff Toig as CEO of the company.
Tidal is currently owned by Jay Z, and a variety of other music artists spanning multiple genres within their field. It is the first artist-owned streaming service in the world. Various artists used the slogan "Turn the tide" and "#TIDALforAll" on social media during the build up to the press conference relaunching the service. The idea of an artist-owned streaming platform was stated as to "restore the value to music by launching a service owned by artists." During the previously-mentioned press conference, Jay Z himself, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Daft Punk, Jack White, Madonna, Arcade Fire, Alicia Keys, Usher, Chris Martin, Calvin Harris, deadmau5, Jason Aldean and J. Cole were introduced to the stage as "The owners of TIDAL". Eric Harvey of Pitchfork stated on the artists who co-own the service, "These are the 1 percent of pop music in the world right now, these are artists who do not answer to record labels, do not answer to corporations."
A key selling point for Tidal in relation to competing with other streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora Radio is the exclusive content already available and expected for the future from the current artists who co-own the company, as well as others. Exclusive content available on the relaunch of Tidal included Rihanna's new single "Bitch Better Have My Money", The White Stripes debut television appearance, Daft Punk's Electroma (2006), playlists personally curated by Jay Z, Beyoncé, Arcade Fire and Coldplay, and a preview of Todd Rundgren's new collaborative project with Anders Lindström and Emil Nikolaisen, and more. Tidal stated on its official Twitter page that "lots of exclusive content [is] on the way". In April 2015, Tidal exclusives included Beyoncé releasing a video of her performing "Die for You", a never heard before song of hers, dedicated to her and Jay Z's wedding anniversary, Madonna releasing a teaser of her upcoming music video at the time for "Ghosttown" and Rihanna debuting her brand new song and music video "American Oxygen".
In June 2015, Lil Wayne joined the service's roster as an artist co-owner, kicking off the partnership by exclusively releasing a track on the service called "Glory." He's also planning his own TIDAL X concert series.
On March 30, 2015, a press conference was held at Skylight at Moynihan Station in New York City, to officially relaunch Tidal. The conference started with a brief introduction and explanation of Tidal from Vania Schlogel of Tidal. After introducing the aforementioned sixteen artist co-owners of Tidal onstage, recording artist Alicia Keys spoke on behalf of the artists and on Tidal. She stated, "So we come together before you on this day, March 30th, 2015, with one voice in unity in the hopes that today will be another one of those moments in time, a moment that will forever change the course of music history." Keys also described the event as like a "graduation". At the end of the press conference, all artists onstage signed a declaration, which stated Tidal's mission and information on the company.
Following the press conference, some confusion was left within the public, as a lot of information was not covered, such as how much Tidal would compensate artists and songwriters compared to competitors such as Spotify, and if Tidal would provide any other features besides music and videos. Tidal claimed to have gained 100,000 new subscribers following the press conference revealing the artists involved in the service.
On February 23, 2016, T.I. joined the service's roster as the latest co-owner, kicking off the partnership by releasing "Money Talk", a single from his tenth album, exclusively on the service, as well as streaming his concert live from Greenbriar Mall in Atlanta.
Shortly after Tidal's launch and press conference, the mobile version of the service shot to the top 20 of the U.S. iPhone Apps chart. However, following criticism for its "out-of-touch marketing campaign", two weeks later, the app had already fallen out of the top 700 ranking of the same list, while competing services like Spotify and Pandora were surging.
Glenn Peoples of Billboard wrote that Tidal was a good thing for the music industry. He stated that the U.S. streaming market needed a "kick in the butt" when looking at the growth rate of streaming from 2014 to 2015. Peoples also noted that more competition in the streaming market is a good thing as it could lead to a "greater diffusion of innovation". He concluded that a service like Tidal - which is promoted as paying a fair amount of royalties to both the artists and the songwriters - will lead to the industry as a whole sorting out its issues with streaming royalties.
From the outset of the relaunching of the Tidal brand, criticism and skepticism was met from both musicians and publications alike and Tidal has often been described on social media as a flop. Writing for USA Today's website, Micah Peters released a list of "3 reasons why Jay Z's new Tidal streaming service is stupid". The article focused on points that the high fidelity, lossless audio quality model being promoted was "overestimat[ing] the average listener". Peters worried that most listeners do not have the required, advanced headphones to distinguish the difference between ordinary and high fidelity audio. The article also stated that the $20 price was simply not reasonable for the mass market.
Recording artist Lily Allen expressed her opinions on Tidal on her official Twitter account. She feared that the high price of Tidal, as well as the mass popularity of the artist co-owners, could result in crippling the music industry and increasing piracy. She stated "I love Jay-Z so much, but Tidal is (so) expensive compared to other perfectly good streaming services, he's taken the biggest artists... Made them exclusive to Tidal (am I right in thinking this?), people are going to swarm back to pirate sites in droves".
Singer Marina and the Diamonds also expressed distaste for the company, saying, "I’m going to be totally honest and it may come back to bite me in the bum, but I haven’t downloaded Tidal. You know what I don’t like about it? It feels very corporate. I would buy into it if it wasn’t just Jay-Z and all those guys. Sure, they’re really respected musicians, but they’re all globally renowned business men and business women. They all have a lot of money. For me, it would make more sense if the message was about supporting the artist, which I think is within their message, but they should actually include artists like Beck, the Distillers or the Maccabees—include bands who’ve made great work, but maybe aren’t on their level in terms of commercialism. The second thing that pisses me off is ‘#TIDALforAll.’ For all? Like, everyone has $20 per month to spend? You’re trying to tell me that this is a democratic, positive way for everyone to consume music and it's just not. You’re not selling that—you’re selling something that's $240 a year."
Kanye West's decision to initially release his album The Life of Pablo as a Tidal streaming exclusive led to criticism from fans, who felt that streaming exclusivity could promote piracy. Sure enough, the album has been pirated over 500,000 times as of February 17, 2016. West later made the album available to stream on competing services.
Finances and royalties
In the United States, a monthly subscription costs $9.99 for the standard "premium" service, or $19.99 for the lossless quality high fidelity ("HiFi") service, when subscribed through the Tidal website. Subscriptions cost 30% more ($12.99/$25.99) when subscribed directly through the iOS app due to Apple App Store fees. Tidal offers a 50% discount for students of accredited institutions, as well as a 40% discount for users in military service. Tidal claims to pay the highest royalty percentage of any current music streaming company, with approximately 75% of members subscription fees being given to record labels for individual artist and songwriter distribution.
One artist has stated that artist royalties per track from Aspiro/Tidal are currently over three times than those paid by Spotify, but that royalties may decrease to provide a sufficient return on investment. Jay Z commented in an interview to Billboard that artists would be paid more by being streamed on Tidal than with Spotify, stating "Will artists make more money? Even if it means less profit for our bottom line? Absolutely. That's easy for us. We can do that. Less profit for our bottom line, more money for the artist; fantastic. Let's do that today." In the same interview he also stressed the service was for people "lower down on the food chain". "For someone like me, I can go on tour, but what about the people working on the record, the content creators and not just the artists? If they're not being compensated properly, then I think we'll lose some writers and producers and people like that who depend on fair trade. Some would probably have to take another job, and I think we'll lose some great writers in the process."
On February 27, 2016, Yesh Music, LLC and John Emanuele from the band The American Dollar launched a $5 million class-action lawsuit that claimed Tidal has yet to compensate the band for any of the royalty payments accrued from the streaming of the band's 116 copyrighted songs. The group had asked months ago to have their music removed from Tidal. As of today, the band's profile is currently still on the service, however no music is available to stream or download on Tidal. The suit also accused Tidal of using faulty numbers to payout artists while also having undercut these same individuals by 35%. A response from Tidal has stated that they are indeed fully up to date on all royalties for the group and have removed said intellectual property from their servers.
No free option is available.
|Name||Price per month||Free of Ads||Listening time||High fidelity, lossless audio||Bitrate||Codec|
|Tidal Premium||Yes||Unlimited||No||320 kbit/s or 96 kbit/s (mobile)||AAC (All supported operating systems)|
||Yes||Unlimited||Yes||variable (lossless)||FLAC (Android/Windows), ALAC (iOS/macOS)|
- Comparison of on-demand streaming music services
- List of Internet radio stations
- List of online music databases
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