Tidal is an online music streaming service that launched last year in Sweden. But Jay Z acquired the company and he’s relaunching it with support of a large group of musicians today.
At a launch event Tidal was described as the first artist-owned global music entertainment platform, and a group of musicians were introduced as its owners, including Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, Daft Punk, Kanye West, Jason Aldean, Nicki Minaj, Jack White, Madonna, Rihanna, Usher, Jason Aldean, and members of Coldplay and Arcade Fire.
So what exactly is Tidal?
It’s an online music streaming service much like Spotify, Rdio, or Google Play. But it promises “CD quality” high-definition music streaming and “curated editorial” content.
In addition to streaming music over the internet, users can download songs for offline listening.
Subscriptions used to go for $20 per month, but Tidal subscriptions are now available for $10 per month if you don’t mind listening to compressed audio. Uncompressed, high-quality audio subscriptions will still be available for $20.
Tidal offers a 30-day free trial, but unlike rivals such as Spotify, the company doesn’t offer any free, ad-supported options once your trial period is up.
There are at least two things that will help set Tidal apart from the competition: the focus on high quality audio and the promise of exclusive content. Sure, every music streaming service tries to offer content that’s exclusively available through that service… but an artist-owned network has a bit of an edge. Don’t be surprised to find content from the musicians who have an ownership stake in Tidal that’s not available on other platforms.
Tidal could also be a better deal for artists: it promises to pay twice the regular royalty rates… or at least it will for subscribers that sign up for the $20 per month plan. What remains to be seen is whether there’s much demand for a service that costs twice as much as the alternatives, even if it does promise better-sounding audio.