“What is TIDAL?” You might be surprised to learn that the TIDAL Music streaming service isn’t new. After a flashy launch, the service has flown under the radar, surfacing when a new exclusive arrives to draw the app to the top of the iTunes charts and potentially draw in new subscribers.
We’ve seen exclusives like Lemonade, the Beyonce visual album that premiered on HBO, Rhianna’s Anti Album and Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo. Now we are set to see a TIDAL exclusive Jay-Z Album on June 30th.
Undoubtedly the 2017 Jay-Z album release date will push TIDAL to the top of the download charts again and will convince some users to check out the TIDAL service instead of Spotify.
Here are five things you need to know about the new TIDAL music streaming service, including why there is a $19.99 a month option and how the TIDAL vs Spotify comparison shakes out.
TIDAL was all about a Hi-Def or Lossless music experience, relaunched with a $9.99 a month option to directly compete with Spotify. This is in addition to luring consumers with exclusives and HD music videos without the high-end lossless Hi-Fi sound.
Before you cancel Spotify or sign up for TIDAL, here are five things you need to know about the services.
What is TIDAL?
TIDAL is, or at least was, a destination for subscribers who want to listen to music at a higher quality than you find on Spotify. The service that includes Lossless High Fidelity music is $19.99 a month — double Spotify.
The TIDAL Premium offering is $9.99, but it does not include the Hi-Fi lossless music quality. At this price users still get access to the curated playlists and to all of the music and HD music videos. here’s a list of what TIDAL offers.
- More than 48.5 million music tracks
- Lossless sound quality (FLAC/ALAC 44.1kHz / 16 bit – 1411 kbps)
- More than 75,000 music videos
- Curated Editorial provided by experienced music journalists and industry experts
- Dedicated apps available for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android phones and tablets
Subscribers can expect exclusive content, access to rough tracks, studio sessions and yes a place to buy merchandise.
There is a $1.50 discount on the TIDAL premium option per month if you pre-pay for six months. There are also family plans that offer a second user for half price, a student plan for just $4.99 a month and a military plan for $5.99 a month.
TIDAL vs Spotify
Since the original launch, TIDAL upgraded the Premium offering to better match Spotify’s highest music quality setting. This move makes the comparison more favorable for TIDAL, which previously offered a very low audio quality at this level.
TIDAL Premium includes “high quality” at AAC 320 kbps. Spotify offers the 96kbps option as normal quality on Mobile, but also offers a high-quality 160kbps with the free version of Spotify. When you pay $9.99 a month for Spotify you can stream at 320kbps “Extreme quality” for better sounding music.
Of course, if you pay for the high-end TIDAL Hi-Fi at $19.99 a month you gain access to lossless content that is not compressed and streams at CD quality.
TIDAL and Spotify both offer iPhone and iPad Apps, an Android app and the option to play from the web. There is a desktop Spotify player, and now there is a PC and Mac TIDAL desktop player available. Both services offer an offline mode and a free trial.
Spotify offers over 30 million songs and TIDAL boasts 48.5 million. Of course, this only matters if your favorite musician or group is missing. Both services connect to various home audio sources wired or wirelessly.
TIDAL Isn’t on Windows Phone
Spotify offers a Windows Phone app and support for the PS4, but you won’t find TIDAL on either of these services. TIDAL offers the following explanation;
“We thoroughly examined the possibility to bring TIDAL to the Windows Phone. At this time it is a feature that we have decided to forgo, so we can focus on the platforms that have the greatest support. We are sorry for any inconvenience that this may cause. With the continued developments of the Windows Phone, we will be revisiting the idea to bring TIDAL to the Windows Phone.”
If you love Windows Phone, TIDAL is not for you.
TIDAL makes a big deal about curated playlists from artists and music journalists, but this is not something exclusive to TIDAL. Apple Music offers curated playlists and Spotify also offers a lot of curated playlists from insiders, publications and from music-savvy regular users. Spotify also offers Daily Mixes based on your listening habits.
HD Music Videos & Exclusives
Spotify now offers some music videos in the app and users can also watch HD music videos on YouTube. TIDAL builds in HD music videos and other exclusives into the TIDAL app and subscription.
TIDAL artists have not removed music from YouTube or VIMEO to put it behind a paywall, but new music videos are showing up exclusively on TIDAL for a period. Typically within hours, the new music video is also on YouTube from someone who downloaded the file.
Representatives describe TIDAL as, “a single destination for artists and fans to share ideas, exclusive content, songs, videos, studio sessions, rough tracks, personal conversations and more.”
Exclusive content is great to an extent and Spotify does offer some Spotify Sessions that may be similar to some of the content, but it doesn’t compare to the level that TIDAL goes with names like Jay-Z, Rhianna, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj and others.