At a press conference in New York City Shawn ‘Jay Z’ Carter and a huge group of music stars took the stage to officially relaunch TIDAL, the streaming music service he recently acquired as part of a $56 million deal.
TIDAL is a high fidelity music service which prides itself in squirting lossless digital lovliness in to your ears rather than that nasty compressed stuff you get from other services. TIDAL launched in the UK, Europe and the US at the end of last year, bringing with it CD-quality streaming.
The rallying cry at the conference, which has just been streamed on the TIDAL site, was that this service would “turn the tide” and restore the value to music by launching a service owned by artists.
Alicia Keys, Arcade Fire, Beyonce, Calvin Harris, Chris Martin, Daft Punk, Jack White, Jason Aldean, J. Cole, Kanye West, DeadMau5, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Rhianna and Usher joined Jay Z in the owners circle. He is reportedly offering millions of dollars and an equity stake to artists who join him.
The recurring theme was that artists were fed up of merely being the product which tech companies decided how best to deliver to the consumer. This is also no doubt a backlash against those platforms such as Spotify who offer streaming music for free, supported by advertising. Many artists have accused said services of paying only a pittance for the rights to stream their music. TIDAL, by contrast, has promised to pay double the standard streaming royalties. That could make a huge difference but TIDAL is still a business.
I pay for the premium tier, as that was the only one available until today’s announcement. Now there is a $9.99 service (I’m guessing it will be £9.99 here) with standard definition audio, which will pay just the standard royalty rates. The double royalties only get paid on streams for customers who sign up for the £20 plan, which promises higher quality audio files, but is twice the cost of a typical Spotify subscription.
In other words TIDAL is tied to the same basic model except that it has moved up the food chain, away from the free ad-supported tier that pays the least, if anything, per stream.
Of course, the main difference being pushed is that this is a business run by musicians and artists within the industry and, in theory, they should care about the other musicians and artists that share their industry.
The good thing is that you can take TIDAL with you and play it off line too which is a bonus, especially now portable headphone amps and DAC’s the size of a mobile phone are with us.
Personally, I have been impressed by TIDAL and it only took a matter of seconds for me to transfer my Spotify playlists over – I still have a Spotify Premium account… for now.
Grab a coffee and watch the announcement – you have to check out the imaginative way in which Madonna signs the declaration 😉