tidal logo

Comparisons are the currency of the music industry, and that of the entertainment industry as a whole. They provide the fabric for conversation, allowing us to thread arguments against each other in debate as we match artists and products against the greats. However, what often gets lost in the comparisons is the value and solitude of a moment.

When To Pimp A Butterfly dropped this past month, we heard this word come up often; “moment.” An event in time that stakes its place within our history, and advances us into the future at the same time. We didn’t have to wait much longer for another moment to take place, when Jay Z announced his purchase of previously Swedish-owned Tidal music streaming service, falling under the umbrella company Aspiro. Shortly following this unexpected announcement, the launch of the company would cause shock waves to be felt across the internet. Artists with names such as Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Madonna, Jason Aldean, J. Cole, Rihanna, Arcade Fire, Daft Punk and more were named as co-owners of the company, each owning a 3% slice of the pie. What this means for the music industry on a large level is confusing to navigate, which is why I am here to help dissect what you need to know about this new, groundbreaking streaming service.

tidal owners

Ownership

As stated previously, Tidal falls under the ownership of a multitude of big name artists, 16 to be exact. Among these owners, they have a total of 298 top 40 hits and 53 number ones, according to Forbes. Tidal has become the first majority artist-owned streaming service to date, and marks a significant unification of some powerful forces. The platform fosters an environment for innovation and artistic expression, a format that Jay Z envisions being the only location needed for music and more. While ownership is limited at the moment, Tidal has announced its intentions to grow, and hopefully many artists will be able to join in the movement. It will help to ensure the artists receive their proper benefits and monetary compensation, while also aiming to help the behind-the-scenes contributors to the overall product.

Exclusive Content

Related to the ownership of the company comes the exclusive content only offered on Tidal. With big names such as Rihanna, Beyonce, and Kanye West, we are already starting to see some exclusive content being released on Tidal. Beyonce belted out a beautiful new song with her husband, Jay Z, videotaping the whole thing to upload onto his new site. Rihanna released American Oxygen and the exclusive video for her new single on Tidal within the last two days. With content already on the way, and more sure to come, it is important to note that even when Tidal launched, it was throwing haymakers. Taylor Swift, who is notably not featured on rival streaming service Spotify, has her discography on Tidal, excluding her most recent album 1989. Jay Z’s all-time classic album Reasonable Doubt has recently been pulled from Spotify, but still featured on Tidal. With contracts in place with all of the major record labels, and most of the independent labels as well, Tidal has an extensive catalog that is growing everyday. With more and more exclusive content on the way, this could be the push that switches over potential Spotify users.

HiFi Lossless Streaming

Lossless refers to the quality of the song and the data lost (or rather, not lost) in compression of the audio file when it is sent to stream over to the web. Tidal is able to do this by streaming what are known as FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) files straight to your computer or mobile device. FLAC files are the original audio files in which the entire information or data of a song is stored, essentially a CD in binary form. These files are very large, since a full song requires a ton of data to fully store the complete sound. Services such as Spotify stream a compressed version of these files, essentially losing out on some of the data/information and thus diminishing the quality of the sound. While this may seem like a big deal, for most common users it won’t be. Spotify and Tidal will sound very similar if not the same on most output devices such as iPhone headphones, or an average dorm-room speaker set. However, if you are sporting some higher quality headphones or a nice speaker / monitor system, this may be for you. I personally own a pair of Sennheiser 380 HD Pro‘s, and I would be lying if I didn’t say that Tidal’s quality certainly sounds incredible when used correctly. You can also test the sound quality at http://test.tidalhifi.com/ to see for yourself whether this feature is beneficial for you or not. It is also important to remember that while HiFi streaming will cost you $20 a month, Tidal also offers a $10 service at the same quality streaming as Spotify and other major competitors. If you are still unsure about switching over, a 30 day trial is free to all users to give both options a try.

tidal user interface

User Interface

With some of the biggest artists of our era involved, it will be exciting to see how Tidal is formatted going forward. While the interface is smooth and intuitive, it does seem to borrow a lot of functionality from Spotify. Some aspects do set it apart however, and additional content help to distinguish it from its competitors. HD videos that are available can be streamed upon demand, while editorials and articles can be shared amongst experts and artists, and viewed by the public as well. Although the company is still in its early stages, it will be interesting to see how the interface and platform as a whole will be revamped and innovated by the owners involved.

While much about Tidal is unknown, the hype looms large. And while mystery often clouds events such as these, some transparency can be found. With a 30 day free trial, users can fully experience Tidal and know what they could be purchasing. And with so much new music coming out this year, it may be the time to give it a try. While I am still undecided if I will transition to a full subscription at the end of my free trial, I can clearly feel that the tides are starting to shift.