When you mention streaming music most people typically think of Spotify, Pandora or iTunes. There have been a lot of other music streaming services, but most of them have slowly fallen to the side. They fail for a variety of reasons. Now there is a new kid on the block, Tidal.
Tidal isn’t exactly new, but it has gotten a facelift and now has some big names and big money pushing it. It started out as Aspiro, a Swedish streaming service that Jay Z bought about a month ago and then re-branded. It was relaunched this week by the new owner, Jay Z, and the rest of his celebrity stakeholders in a spectacularly boring press conference that you can watch on their site for an agonizing 20 minutes, or you can just read on.
There is a brief introduction from Vania Schlogel, the Roc Nation CIO and a mention of a partnership with Sprint before she starts introducing the ‘owners’ of the new music streaming service. The ‘owners’ included Alicia Keys, Win Butler & Régine Chassagne of Arcade Fire, Beyoncé, Calvin Harris, Chris Martin from Coldplay, Daft Punk, Jack White, Jason Aldean, J. Cole, Jay Z, Kanye West, Deadmau5, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna and Usher.
Alica Keys then took the stage and told us that this is the “The first ever artist owned global music and entertainment platform. Our mission goes beyond commerce, it goes beyond technology. Our intent is to preserver musics importance in our lives.”
After a lot of flowery talk, during which she quoted Neitzche, she then invited the ‘owners’ up to sign their declaration, not that anyone knows what their declaration says, but it is now full of a lot of bad signatures and probably worth a fortune on Ebay. The most exciting part was when Madonna put her leg up on the table.
If this was such an exciting new project that they hoped would bring art back into the music then why didn’t they invest a little enthusiasm into their stage appearance, or at the very least a little bit of money to give it some pizzazz? I found the whole presentation rather boring and lacking any information.
The whole presentation reminded me of something out of high school. The ‘owners’ were uber casual about it all, showed no enthusiasm and seemed more interested in gossiping with the person next to them than showing an excitingly unified professional front.
As for Tidal itself, well aside from the celebrity endorsement their main selling point is Lossless audio streaming. Which, if you are an audiophile, might mean something to you. Lossless is a non-compressed music stream that is supposed to deliver CD quality sound.
Unfortunately if you want Lossless sound quality you need to shell out $20 a month on their premium package. For $10 a month you get access to the standard sound that everyone else delivers, but you will get access to exclusive material.
If you can’t decide whether the premium package is worth it then they will let you do their test where you can listen to five songs and switch between the to two qualities so you can decide which you like better. Take the test and you get a two-week free trail.
The odd thing is that if you just go to the site and sign up without taking the test, then you get a 30 day trial. I think their high-end quality sound test just lost me right there.
While most service, such as Spotify, offer 329Kbps music Tidal claims that it will deliver CD quality music streaming via it’s Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) of via the Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC.) the Lossless Codec is supposed to give CD sampling at a rate of 44kHz at a bit rate of 1411Kbps.
I enjoy my music, but I am not an audiophile and to be honest if we are talking sound quality then I prefer to listen to a record rather than a CD. I will however admit that I am just too lazy to keep flipping my records or changing out CDs so I settle for MP3/4 format on continual shuffle.Looking through Internet reviews there are several people who appreciate the improved sound quality and rave about it, the problem is though that many people’s devices can’t carry the sound quality of the higher package. However it seems that Tidal has realized that so they are partnering with some of the higher end audio devices, such as NAD Deonon and Harma’s Omni range, in an attempt to overcome that. They have 35 companies that have agreed to support Tidal through their hardware.
Here is a list of what Tidal has to offer per their website:
High Fidelity Sound Quality
No compromises. Just pure sound. With our lossless audio experience, you can enjoy your music the way the artists intended. Unlimited access to over 25 million tracks.
High Definition Music Videos
Watch more than 75,000 music videos. No ads. No fuzzy images. Just crystal clear pictures.
Find your next favorite with tailor-made recommendations, album presentations and playlists by experienced music journalists.
Stories behind the music
Read our integrated music articles, features and interviews.
Download albums, playlists and tracks, and bring your music with you anywhere using our offline mode for up to three devices.
Wonder what’s that track playing on the radio? Never miss out again, get the answer instantly, using our Audio search.
Build your personal music collection simply by marking albums, artists, tracks and playlists as your favorite.
You can also do some of your favorite activities such as create playlists, share with friends, listen to artist- or track-based radio, check artist bios, find similar artists and music, and edit your play list.
We still don’t know what is in this for the artists or how they are compensated by Tidal. All we know is that Jay Z claims that under this ownership scheme artists will make more money than they would with Spotify and that a Tidal executive told The Times that a majority of shares in the service “would be set aside for artists.” So does this mean that once again the rich get richer while the poor wallow in the mud? Are they referring to all artists or just the once that have already invested in Tidal? I see a lot of questions, but not a lot of answers.
If this is truly a service by artists, for artists then I would expect to see a little more indie action and openings for small time artists. I guess it is all a wait and see game, but in the meantime I am sticking with Pandora.