In the hustle and bustle of the booming industry that is music streaming, the likes of Spotify, Apple and YouTube are now been faced with a new competitor. Tidal, officially launched on Monday 30th March, has sparked global interest from on-the-go music lovers. Aside from the tremendously awkward standing around by artists like Beyoncé and Deadmau5, the strategic rhetoric delivered by Alicia Keys and the significant, yet overly dramatic, signing of a ‘declaration’, the re-launch of Tidal (previously the Swedish company Aspiro) raises questions about its place within the music streaming industry.
This music service could not have come at a better time for artists. Information surrounding music’s monetary value on Spotify did not seem fair, resulting in the lovable Taylor Swift up and leaving the service completely. What’s to say any other artist isn’t next?
Tidal, as put by music and business mogul, Jay Z, is the first music service owned by artists, putting the music (and its worth) at the forefront to provide listeners with the highest quality and experience. Its primary marketing tool is the concept of ‘lossless’ music – the MP3 is just not enough for high quality music, with 320 kbps being the barrier for true quality. Tidal offers an unprecedented Flac 1141 kbps, the equivalent of CD quality music through an app.
Clearly being the leader in this respect, the service also provides extras, including exclusive content, videos and music, before general release, as well as “expertly curated” editorial for those who want to read as well as listen. Who would blame people for being interested when Beyoncé releases Die For You and Rihanna releases American Oxygen exclusively to the service? The interface is similar to Spofity, making it a familiar product; features of being able to watch videos and the ability to drag and drop music in your queue is a feature much appreciated by the Spotify user.
Tidal is concerned with the treatment of music, fair pay to artists and providing a quality that rivals other music services, to the point where its online web player permits only 30 seconds of playback, encouraging users to sign up. However, when signing up, you’re faced with a choice. The premium service will give you all of the above, riding standard 320 kbps quality sound at a reasonable £9.99 – similar to Spotify. The HiFi option will provide all of the above with the ‘Lossless’ quality sound, racking up at double the cost for £19.99.
Complex News went among the streets of New York to test the 320 kbps against the ‘lossless’ quality, asking one pivotal question: ‘Would you pay to use Tidal?’, to which one out of six people said they would pay for this service. This raises the issue of whether anyone actually cares. In an age where we have become accustomed to the music quality of 320 kbps on the go, are we really concerned with paying an extra tenner for CD quality sound? If our progress into a technologically advanced space within music has seen a movement to take music quality back to that on CD’s, why not just buy one instead?
Understandably, the decline of retailers like the HMV group has been due to the increase of illegal downloading and music streaming services like Spotify and Pandora. With Tidal now amidst those that offer such a service at a higher price, what can we expect from the attitude of consumers to music? With the doors open to all artists to jump on board with the company, who says other artists won’t be dropping like flies from other music services for fairer pay? As an advocate for paying an appropriate amount for music, it is important to consider that artists deserve for their music to be treated well and to be compensated for it fairly.
However, criticisms have already begun to surface, and there is a concern that Tidal (in the limelight of the industry) will be the stepping-stone for two possible destinations for music sharing and streaming: an increase of users paying a fair amount for music through Tidal’s services, or an increase of illegal downloading.
Though still in its beta form, as no PC/MAC application is downloadable for the product, there is a lot promise for the service to be an interesting competitor in the music streaming industry.