What is TIDAL and should you get it?

Tidal Launch Event NYC #TIDALforALL

Last month, during an odd press event, Jay-Z, Beyonce and every other famous musicians who makes their living making music got on stage to talk to us about music, streaming and how they would revolutionize the way people listen to music. They introduced TIDAL, a music streaming service that, for $20 a month, will give you…music.

The motivation behind TIDAL was to protect small artists from streaming services like Spotify, that pays measly amounts back to artists in exchange for streaming their musk. TIDAL charges a monthly fee, but in exchange, users will be paying artists more while being able to stream music, download playlists to travel with and watch music videos. This seems like the ideal solution for artists who want to be paid for their art and consumers who want to listen to music cheaply. But is it really that simple?

TIDAL has some major players in the game (equity stakeholders include Beyoncé and Rhianna), and has been mostly on the defensive about what they actually stand for. Most recently, Ben Gibbard critiqued the service, saying, “I think they totally blew it by bringing out a bunch of millionaires and billionaires and propping them up onstage and then having them all complain about not being paid.” Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons feels that TIDAL will only benefit the larger, wealthier artist, and banjoist Winston Marshall dissed Jay-Z and Co., calling them “new school f**cking plutocrats.” Even Lily Allen chimed in on Twitter.

You get it.

So after all this, should you get TIDAL? I chatted with my awesome friend Lesley, who tried the 30-day free trial. She had been using it for about a week before we talked. She mentioned liking the look of the app and the easy transportability with the “offline” feature. She also mentioned better sound quality over headphones, but not necessarily speakers. But overall? Lesley votes no on TIDAL. “I’m not convinced I have to switch over from Spotify,” she said. Issues with the service included being extremely specific with the search feature, since TIDAL pulls up the “most relevant” search result first and the “distracting” video feature. But the biggest problem with the service, Lesley said, was the price. For $20 a month, she wants a radio feature (they don’t have a radio feature?!?!?!), and the ability to transfer some of her old playlists over.

My personal opinion on TIDAL isn’t favorable, either. I haven’t used the service, but for known billionaires to parade on stage and complain about not being paid for their work diminishes the work of everyone around them. While I love Beyoncé, doesn’t she regularly take profit from the actual people who write her music just because her name is on it? What does this service say to writers whose books are carried in libraries? Is Jay-Z going to ban libraries now? I want to know how this service is actually helping artists who are independent and trying to make music their livelihoods.

Ball’s in your court, Hov.


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