Debating TIDAL? Here's A Pro & Con List To Help

by Maitri Suhas

It might not be breaking the internet, but Jay Z's TIDAL is definitely making waves (pun absolutely intended). Jay Z bought the new streaming service for $56 million last week, and held the most well-dressed press conference of all time on March 30. Artists like Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Kanye, and Daft Punk joined Jay Z to "turn the tide" against free-streaming music services that say they underpay artists for their content. Jay said: "People are not respecting the music, and devaluing what it really means. People really feel like music is free, but will pay $6 for water."

It's an interesting analogy, if nothing else. TIDAL still new, but it seems like only the first of many alternate streaming services, as iTunes also announced it will release their US-only Beats music service later this year. So if you're already a Spotify Premium subscriber or buying music from iTunes, the question stands: should you join TIDAL, or stick with the service you've already got?

As with anything, there are definite pros and definite cons to riding the TIDAL wave. At it's most ideological, TIDAL is about artists being in control of their music and revenue for the first time, and if you support artists' rights to control how much money they earn for their work. you might be a TIDAL supporter already. Here are some arguments for and against TIDAL:

Yes, Ride The Tidal Wave

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TIDAL's departure from Spotify and other streaming services is based around the fact that TIDAL will offer NO free ride for users, meaning it's subscription only. But that payment doesn't come without benefits. The music available from artists on TIDAL will be "CD-quality" rather than the lower quality content offered on Spotify, et. al. TIDAL will also offer as incentives exclusives and extras much earlier than iTunes and Spotify will, if at all: an early example is Beyonce's newest single "Die With You," released on April 4 on TIDAL only. The jury's still out on whether or not "Die With You" will become available on Spotify and iTunes, if ever.

If you're really dedicated to your favorite artists, TIDAL is probably for you. It's revolutionary in that it's one of the first streaming service to put the control back in the artists' hands; Jay Z is offering stakeholder equity in the company to the artists joining the streaming service. “This is a platform that’s owned by artists. We are treating these people that really care about the music with the utmost respect," Jay Z said.

Or if you're really dedicated to high-quality streams of your favorite albums, than TIDAL is the right option. Jay Z told Billboard that besides artist exclusives, he thinks that TIDAL's offering of exclusive video content especially will help the streaming service stand apart from its competitors.

No, Stay Out Of The Water

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The biggest con about switching to TIDAL is the difference in price-tag. As you know, TIDAL's main gripe with other streaming services is their free-tier option, which they won't offer. There will be two subscription offers, one at $9.99 — the same as Spotify's Premium — and one at 19.99 for higher quality. The Verge puts it in as plain-faced terms as possible:

It introduced a $9.99 service 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 $19.99 plan, which promises higher quality audio files, but is twice the cost of a typical Spotify subscription. In other words TIDAL is bound by the same economics as its competitors, but it choose to move up the food chain, away from the free ad-supported tier that pay the least per stream.

BUT, still, that's a pretty high price-tag monthly for a streaming service, especially if you're already paying the ten bucks for Spotify and are happy with the service, and don't see the point of switching over if you're not going to upgrade to the $20 plan.

And maybe you just don't think that artists need to be getting any more money — and hey, if you can't afford a $20-a-month subscription, don't be mad about not making the switch.

Maybe — You Don't Have To Decide Just Yet

Unless Taylor Swift's rage against the Spotify machine totally destroyed you (which it may well have) when she removed all of her music, you might not want to make the decision to switch just yet. Though it may upset Spotify in the future, Spotify still beats TIDAL for miles in terms of subscribers; they have 60 million subscribers, a quarter of which are paying members, the rest supported by ads. Spotify also makes the sound argument that their free-tier is what attracts paying members in the first place. I can attest that I used Spotify for free for months before I bought a Premium account, but I don't regret it at all.

TIDAL is all but a baby in the streaming game, but with HOVA and his legion of huge artists behind him, it very well may be an upset to the world of music-streaming services. But you can hold on to that Spotify account for now if you're still uncertain; don't let all those workout/pity party playlists go to waste just yet.

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