A View On Tidal

If one is willing to invest, directly or indirectly, $56 million (£36m) to acquire a music streaming service, one must either see a ready-to-harvest cash cow, or push a star platform to a higher level.

Jay Z’s entrepreneurial decision to invest in Swedish Aspiro and turn it into Tidal, a streaming superpower, is an attempt to counter fellow Swede Spotify and to send monetization back the artists’ way.

And as you might expect, he was of course not alone in this venture. He found himself backed by smart investors and music heavyweights like Madonna, Coldplay, Daft Punk, Nicki Minaj and Rihanna among others.
You know, those Warholians who push one creative masterpiece after the other into the market.

What’s there?

Offering users access to a 25 million track catalogue – 5 million more than Spotify.
Oh, and music videos and ‘curated’ content.

What’s the damage to your bank account?

£9.99 for a regular subscription, £19.99 for access to the best-of-the-best.

Who’s there?

Pretty much the same as you’d find on other streaming websites. Still no full AC/DC back catalogue though. Tidal also offers curated editorial content provided by experienced music journalists and industry experts.

Quality control

Spotify offers music to subscribers in two quality formats: 160 kbit/s for the ‘plebs’ and a higher quality 320 kbit/s (AAC) for Premium users. You might consider that higher quality to be sufficient for your average music lover. Mais non! Not according to the Tidal wave.

One of their main USPs is offering music in Lossless (FLAC) format to premium members; a format four times ‘bigger’/’better’ than your top-of-the-line Spotify stream.

But then the question is: Who here really cares about Lossless? Besides my dad of course, who obsessively converted his loved music to 150+ mb tracks so ‘he could fully experience the music as it was meant to be’.
Lossless is a format that, unless you’re on a decent connection, is way too heavy to stream through your £10 laptop speakers. And forget about having those files offline on your mobile; you can only get the 320 kbit/s versions to blast through your headphones. Anyway, who would have 1GB available to listen to Taylor Swift’s 1989 on their phone (oh wait, it’s not on there anyway)?

Should you care?

As an early adopter and fan of Spotify – I’m one of those who faked a Swedish address and jumped on a VPN to register in 2009 – I tend to be critical whenever another streaming platform tries to slag off my long-trusted music friend.

Tidal’s offering to its users does not look very different from its competitors’. Nor does it offer anything completely new, other than FLAC and music videos.

But then who really cares?

Now, here’s the crux. Tidal claims to kick back higher royalties to its artists. The institutes that care about generating revenue, high paying sponsorships, sold-out tours. In other words, the same heavyweights that huddled up with Jay Z in the first place.

If I was being really critical, Tidal looks like a political superpower. Fair call, they are the artists, they hold the rights to do with their products whatever they want. And yes, they should get all the cherries.
Simplify their message and Tidal ends up as ‘a simple way to get even more money.’

But FLAC offering isn’t convincing enough for me to splash out £240 a year for nothing I can’t find elsewhere. Still, the power and influence of the Tidal crew will probably make the platform succeed by imitation.

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Timothy FSM 621 posts

Converted to dEUS-ism in 2001. Keen on screaming Friday Friday Friday once a week on Twitter. Might convince you not to talk about U2.

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