In the first quarter of the year, Shawn "Jay Z" Carter's company Project Panther Bidco acquired the music streaming firm Aspiro, owner of the streaming service TIDAL, making it the first artist-owned streaming service. The service has been in the news lately after popular artists like Jay-Z himself as well as Kanye West, Rihanna and Arcade Fire spread the trending hashtag #TIDALforALL.. While the concept sounds promising, it's likely that TIDAL won't be the musical revolution it has been marketed as.
TIDAL's biggest issue in gaining a user base is its price tag. The service has announced two payment plans: $9.99 a month for standard audio and $19.99 a month for high quality, lossless audio. TIDAL's premium plan costs about twice as much as the premium plans for other music streaming services such as Spotify and Google Play Music. Additionally, the majority of Spotify users and users of other ad-supported services such as Pandora are loyal to these services due to their ad-supported free plans. TIDAL's lack of a free service will discourage many users who can't afford a monthly subscription from switching over.
Many popular artists announced their ownership of TIDAL during the press conference earlier this year and have shown support on social media. With such big names coming forward as supporters and few smaller labels and artists to be found supporting TIDAL, it's hard to see TIDAL as a platform to support struggling artists. There's just something disingenuous about the richest, most high-profile musicians today complaining about not getting paid enough, and that sense of greed could discourage people from subscribing.
In order to increase its subscribers, TIDAL's supporters have also been releasing exclusive content to the service. Jay Z pulled his album "Reasonable Doubt" from Spotify recently, and Rihanna has released two exclusive tracks to TIDAL already. In theory, a move like this from an artist-owned streaming service seems fair. Due to TIDAL's artist-owned nature, musicians on TIDAL recieve around 2.4-2.8 cents per stream, almost five times more compensation for their work than they would from Spotify. However, many fans of TIDAL's backing musicians just aren't able to afford the monthly subscription. This could actually lead to less compensation for the artists and an increase in piracy. The amount of people paying for music has been steadily decreasing. It's likely that the general population would rather download the exclusive content illegally than pay the steep price to stream it on TIDAL.
TIDAL could lead to a better means of music streaming and selling in which artists have a bigger say. But until TIDAL becomes more accessible to the general population, it's not going to become the revolution in music it claims to be.
Arthi Vijaykumar. More »