Tidal: A Music Streaming Service & Movement to Change Artist Compensation

By: Olivia Boudreau

The music business has been struggling for a while now to create a business model in which artists are compensated fairly for their work. Artists, and all other people involved in creating music, aren’t seeing high royalty rates on their music, since actually paying for music has decreased as a result of illegal downloading and free music streaming services.

Jay-Z decided to try and change this by acquiring the first high-fidelity lossless music streaming service, from Aspiro, for 56 million dollars: Tidal. It is an artist-only owned service, with an extensive list of some of the biggest artists in the industry as owners, such as Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Beyonce, Rihanna, Madonna, Daft Punk, Coldplay, Jason Aldean, and many more. Tidal’s primary goal is to change the broken compensation system and to change the accepted limits of what is offered for streaming. By charging more for the service, Tidal hopes to generate more income so they can better compensate artists. By raising the royalty rates paid to artists, it hopes to raise the standard of what we pay for music, as well as change people’s perceptions of paying for music.

Tidal contains a library of 25 million songs, 75,000 HD music videos, curated playlists, editorial articles, and interviews. It is available for $9.99 or $19.99 a month, with a 6 month free trial, so that it is open to as many people as possible. There are lots of other competitors on the market, not only in music streaming, but also in music consumption. There are music streaming services such as Spotify, Beats Music, IHeart Radio, Pandora, and many more. There is also regular music downloading on ITunes, illegal music downloading on the internet, as well as CD’s and vinyl.

In comparison to the competition, Tidal is the only streaming service with lossless sound. Lossless sound is music that hasn’t been compressed to a smaller format, as we see with MP3s, so it is much better quality. It also offers HD music videos, expertly curated playlists and interviews. Jay Z describes it as a place where artists can put out whatever they want, not just what is on their album cycle. Tidal also offers exclusives from artists who are owners, and hopes that other artists will do the same. It also has higher royalty rates for artists. Artists need only 1500 streams versus Spotify’s 3000 streams to equal the sale of one album.

Tidal’s primary goal is to change the compensation system and to change the accepted limits of what is offered for streaming. By charging more for the service, there will be more income, which means there will be more money given to artists, and hopefully it will lead to a more sustainable business model for the music industry. Jay Z said, “If at the very least all we did was make people wake up and try to improve the free vs. paid system and promote fair trade then it would be a win for us anyways.”

The marketing campaign is described as a movement to change the music business and artist compensation. They are portraying it as the only morally-sound streaming service available run by artists themselves, unlike other services that rip them off. A social media movement was started on March 30th, 2015 in which all the artists involved changed their pictures and banners on Twitter to blue, while hashtagging #TIDALforALL and encouraging others to do so as well to support the movement. Kanye West tweeted “Together we can make music history. Show support and make your profile photo blue. Turn the tide. #TIDALforALL.”

There was of negative backlash towards the marketing campaign and promotion. Lots of people thought it was way over-the-top because they often described this as a “revolution” and the start of a “new world,” when it’s only a music streaming service that isn’t drastically different from what is offered now. There was positive feedback as well because of their mission and the fact that they have at least gained awareness of the fact that something needs to be done to change the music business to better compensate artists. Whether or not Tidal ends up being successful or not, Jay Z has at least made people start really talking about improving the free vs. paid system in the music business.

References

Gervino, Tony.” Jay Z Talks Tidal, Jimmy Iovine, Rewriting the Music Business Rulebook.” Billboard. N.p., 20 Mar. 2015. Web.

McCann, James.”All Talk, No Action: What Jay-Z’s Grandiose Marketing Campaign for ‘Tidal’ Didn’t Tell You.” Junkee. N.p., 2 Apr.2015. Web.

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30 thoughts on “Tidal: A Music Streaming Service & Movement to Change Artist Compensation

  1. Ryan MacLeod April 16, 2015 / 12:40 pm

    This is very interesting to me because on one hand you have these multi-millionaire artists who are saying they need to be compensated more, which kind of rubs me the wrong way. But I also see that you can get free music anywhere online which is essentially having some artists work for free. I think the real differentiator in choosing this service over one of the less expensive, lower paying, music streaming sites is the “lossless sound” concept. I am constantly listening to music of all genres and can’t stand when I purchase or download a song and the quality is horrible. It will obviously be up to the consumer to decide if the HD quality is there or not when using this service but I definitely think its worth the free 6 month trial to find out. It could also potentially be a huge marketing gimmick to get people to buy into the service. I wonder if once you purchase the service they’ll start trying to sell you “HD Lossless Sound Listening Devices” as well. I think its worth giving this service a shot though. Great article.

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  2. Andrew Arcidi April 16, 2015 / 2:38 pm

    I am a Spotify user but Tidal still stands out. What really makes it stand out is that in your article you said Jay-Z said artists can put whatever they want on there. This is appealing because you really can’t get mix tapes on Spotify and may be able to on Tidal. However, Spotify is only $4.99 a month for students which is much more appealing than $9.99 or $19.99.

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  3. Sasha Letourneau April 16, 2015 / 2:45 pm

    I think Tidal is great. I think its awesome that you can stream songs that artists are trying out and aren’t on the artists CD and that its run by the artists. I also think it is great that customers have to pay for this because other companies such as spotify really do rip off the artists. Like you said in your presentation, Taylor Swift pulled all of her music off of spottily because they weren’t paying her enough. If all of the artists did that then Tidal could monopolize it. I can’t wait to try it out and see.

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  4. Mackenzie Kilmartin April 16, 2015 / 4:33 pm

    While I think Tidal is a very efficient way for music listeners to access music, and for artists to get the compensation they deserve, I think the remaining competition (ie Spotify, Pandora, etc.) will run it out of the market. I am a Spotify user who pays monthly and am more than happy with what my account has to offer, such as live streaming, free playlists, and the “available offline” ability which allows me to listen to commercial-free music without wifi. I think big time artists are huge supporters of Tidal, but I am not sure if that is enough to get listeners to support Tidal and keep it in the market.

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  5. Chris Lantagne April 16, 2015 / 7:27 pm

    I’m not sure if something like this would work. It sounds like just another music streaming service. The fact that it is the first to offer lossless quality is also not that big of a deal since you can download music illegally in lossless quality and have access to rare demos, b-sides etc. for most artists. If the problem is artists and how they don’t get enough compensation then I would focus on concerts and touring. Concerts and shows have really been on the rise the last few years and that’s how artists really make their money. Just ask U2 who has made almost $1 billion collectively as a band through shows. 360 tour in the 00’s or even their Zoo TV tour in the early 90’s for their Achtung Baby album. No band has ever come close to that figure.

    Radiohead is another group that other artists could possibly follow if they’re so upset about compensation. In 2007, they released In Rainbows and fans could pay whatever they wanted. Fans could purchase individual songs or the full album directly from their website. At checkout, the option “it’s up to you” appears where you pay whatever you want. You could pay $1.00 to $500,000 if you wanted. If you felt it was worth nothing you could pay that too. They also had no record company to deal with so that would be a big plus for artists as well.

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  6. Mattia Lanzi April 17, 2015 / 1:54 am

    I am a Spotify fan but I also think that Tidal is a great and very efficient way for people to access music. I am a Spotify user and I’m very happy for what i pay and what it offers. (such as live streaming, free playlists, and the “available offline”.
    I think that big name artists can support Tindal but it would be much harder for artists that are not as famous as Jayz

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  7. Yafen Liu April 19, 2015 / 1:29 am

    Interesting topic. I think the 75,00 HD music videos are pretty appealing. As we all know, the competitors and replacements are increasingly present in music industry. Actually, I use Pandora because of the free music. On one hand, if there were a free replacement, nobody would pay for the other one. However, if the quality were quite attractive, people would pay and buy it. On the other hand, artists would gain what they deserved, which in turn protect arts.

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  8. Sam Ventresca April 21, 2015 / 12:10 am

    Tidal is a great idea and I think it has a chance to be successful especially with an artist of Jay Z’s caliber at the head of it. Music streaming services like Spotify seems very similar to Tidal, However Tidal offers more for the artist which could hurt Spotify. In the near future artists may only release their music on Tidal hurting Spotify and other online music streaming services. Eventually this can lead to Tidal being the primary and best music streaming service.

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  9. Yuxuan Wang April 21, 2015 / 6:59 pm

    It sounds great, and I also think all of those artists have a good starting point. But I am not sure that high quality is still a selling point. We do believe the customers have to pay for this kind of service, but how to persuade them to pay is the key problem. I do not think the majority of customers will buy this whatever how much it is. Because in this industry, fierce competition means common advantage could not take enough market share for the company. So, if they want to realize what they want, they have to improve Tidal.

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  10. william matthews April 22, 2015 / 1:55 am

    Tidal to me sounds like just another music streaming device that celebrities are making revenue off. They are using the “Lossless” sound quality as a way to differentiate from other music streaming services when to me, it is all the same. There are some people out there who are very against the thought of paying for music and think that music should be free to every body. I am one of those people, I would much rather stream music for free and bear a few commercials then have to pay for it.
    Although I do see where these artists are coming from, wanting to make money off their product. It is still a tough decision for me because there are so maney other ways off getting good quality sounding music for free. For Example you can download free “Lossless” songs from the Web or listen to youtube videos and so forth.

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  11. Braxton Bilous April 22, 2015 / 3:35 am

    Tidal does offer a better quality of sound for a paid subscription, and yes this may cause people to switch from their current paid subscription. But, the majority of people that are using competing music services for free, I feel as though this will not be a factor in making them start paying for music services. Than there is also the issue of the artists being mad they are not being compensated enough from competing services such as Spotify. These big name artists are so inclined to revolutionize the streaming music service industry, now are making money off of this service and others that they currently have there music on. The way I see it, if they are so passionate about providing a better quality of sound and better compensation for artists, pull their music off of other streaming service and have it only available on Tidal. Not only will people stop seeing this as just another source of income for the artists, it may cause for a huge amount of subscribers to switch to the service Tidal provides. That is when I will take this “revolution” seriously.

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  12. Emma Tkachuk April 22, 2015 / 1:52 pm

    Tidal seems like a great offer for what your getting, but I think it will be hard to get going because $9.99 a month for some people could be a lot just for music. I usually just listen to Pandora and I’m fine with that so for me I probably wouldn’t buy Tidal. I know with the money you pay you get more than just music like articles, music videos, or new music straight from the artist, but I don’t see it being that much different from things like Pandrora, Spotify,or IHeart Radio. I also think that the artists are making it too focused on themselves and the royalty rates they will get as opposed to the customer. It seems like they just made this so artists will get the money they “deserve.”

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  13. Joe Greco April 22, 2015 / 11:25 pm

    I found this very interesting that Jay-Z a very good and well respected business man would launch this. It does have the right ideas when it comes to giving the artists the benefits, but it is something that has simply not been working at all. In fact I read an article earlier today telling how bad Tidel is failing as it has fallen out of the top 700 apps downloaded on iPhones. Not to mention how it has not even been in the same ball park when it comes to its competitors (Spotify, Pandora). Barring a miracle it looks like this business venture by Hova has failed.

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  14. David Collins April 23, 2015 / 12:28 am

    Tidal came out of the gate hot, cracking the top 20 on Apple’s App downloads. However, since then, it’s out of the top 700. This is likely because the amount of people who care about lossless music jumped all over it, but for the most part, the general public does not care. If people cared about high quality sound, instead of cost and ease of use, record players and CDs would still have some market share. Instead, people want convenience and cheap music. Why pay $20 a month for sound that the average ear can’t even differentiate from the sound they get for free? Until artists start joining together to ban their music from sites like Spotify, as Taylor Swift has done, and all jump in on Tidal, it’ll go nowhere.

    Plus, it’s hard to play the pity card that you’re not paid enough when you’re multi million dollar artists. Time to change the business plan.

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  15. Kendra Van Pelt April 25, 2015 / 7:56 pm

    Tidal could become a huge success or fade into the background. For music users that are starting to convert to, for example, Spotify’s premium membership, I think Tidal could attract those consumers. As those individuals are already planning on investing more money into their music streaming service, why not switch to the service that has better sound quality and apparent greater “moral” backing? However, there are many, many more consumers that are still utilizing free music streaming services, and I believe those consumers will not be the easiest to convert. Although essentially a $100 may not be a lot for the whole year, I think many people will still compare that to a free membership. The music quality is supposed to be amazing – but what of the consumers that have extremely nice headphones? Is it going to make a huge difference? How much better is it really, compared to Spotify or Pandora? I think there are still a lot of unanswered general questions concerning why Tidal is the way to go. However, I do think Tidal could be beneficial for up and coming artists. While I do not think it’s right that artists are having their life work stolen each day, they have counteracted that problem with in incredibly high concert tickets, tour merchandise, TV appearances, and a number of other tactics. However, Tidal could really help the starving artists of the music industry.

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  16. Keelyn Crowe April 27, 2015 / 7:21 pm

    I think that the fact that Tidal offers better sound is a plus and the fact that big names like Jay Z and Kanye west are involved is also a cool attribute that other music sites like spotify and pandora don’t really offer. Although there has been a lot of controversy about this new music site that i have seen on twitter most recently. A lot of people don’t think that these big artists really care since they have so many other products that they work with and people are very speculative that they actually care as much as they say in the commercial. A lot of people think there just in it for the money which might make it hard for them to gather a trust by consumers. Especially since spotify which is their biggest competitor is so widely known and is used by many people. It will be interesting to see how Tidal does with such heavy competition.

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  17. beaudoinr April 27, 2015 / 8:22 pm

    I think that the idea of Tidal is good, but i think the execution is poor. I firmly believe that the artists are just trying to be greedy and make more money for themselves. The idea that all these major artists from all different genres are coming together is cool and is really interesting to see, but I don’t think that they are truly doing it of the reasons that they say. I think that 9.99 a month is asking a lot for people that can listen to this music for free on so many other sites.

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  18. Billy Muldoon April 27, 2015 / 8:28 pm

    Although this new program does sound very appealing, I do feel as though it will face a lot of fierce competition between such successful companies like iTunes Radio, Pandora, and Spotify. Personally, I pay for Spotify premium and firmly believe that it is well worth the money. I have never been disappointed with it, and have never regretted my decision to start paying for it. Putting my love for Spotify aside, I do believe that the company really hurts their public appearance by not reimbursing the artists that they feature. Tidal can only use this to their advantage by creating a more legitimate streaming service in comparison to Spotify, by charging their customers a little more than Spotify does, but in return giving the customer better sound quality and more options than Spotify, as well as doing the morally correct thing and reimbursing the artist more than they already do.

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  19. Ryan Etter April 27, 2015 / 9:04 pm

    I found this to be an interesting topic because this was the first time id heard of Tidal. i think this movement is questionable though because a lot of the artists featured in that video already have their music on other music networks such as Spotify. Yes, it is the morally correct thing to do by not illegally downloading music but people will find any way to get their hands on music for free thats just our generation. Tidal is more respectable to me than Spotify because i believe they really do give better quality.

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  20. Katherine Durant April 27, 2015 / 10:41 pm

    I feel like Tidal could be the next best thing. We already see most people making the move from Pandora to Spotify. And now if some artists only have their albums available on Tidal the others will no longer we able to compete. The competition were be very competitive at first which is a huge piece of the puzzle that Tidal will have to overcome. They are entering a field that is already dominated by so many highly respected brands. If these artists are really going to make this happen the plan needs to be better executed in many ways. The idea is so broad and weak as of right now it seems as though it may just be an idea that could fall through the cracks.

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  21. Patrick Barrett April 28, 2015 / 12:17 am

    It seems stupid to talk about but the idea of making a streaming platform that is almost exact i every single way to things like spottily yet charge double for it is crazy. its hard to see and be so critical of the product seeing as that I like many of the artiest involved but i can’t help but to say that they are out of their minds to think that this is going to work. For one the sound quality is equal to that of a CD, if this now the golden standard for sound than I am very disappointed. two, I can’t see the artist controlled pages really taking off ether, it will be interesting at first but i really don’t see the artist keeping up with it after a while. I just see this as a pompous act by the artist to say hey my names attached to this mediocer product now fork over double the price of the companies that we literally ripped ideas off of.

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  22. Meghan Saldutti April 28, 2015 / 12:37 am

    I think that people should have to pay to listen to artists music considering they do make their own music and put their time and effort in. Tidal seems like it will be the next be thing and since it is be promoted by such well known and respected artists, their fans will want to invest in this new way to listen to their favorite music.

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  23. James Wagner April 28, 2015 / 2:01 am

    I think that Tidal is a great idea for the artists. For the public, it’s kind of annoying. We are all used to the normal Itunes, or the occasional Spotify, so paying some good money for a bunch of songs that the artists themselves prefer is kind of weird. I do believe that the artists don’t get enough commission from selling their music to other music platforms. They do have a good idea on their shoulders and having more and more artists to step up and follow their movement will support their cause. This has the potential to become a revolution in the music industry.

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  24. Patrick Breslin April 28, 2015 / 3:17 am

    I understand why artists are upset that they are not getting compensated for their music through these other music downloading avenues even though most are extremely rich. An artists career isn’t long and they come and go, they have to live there whole life off of this money and its their right to get compensated for the music they create. I like the idea of lossless sound and am interested to hear the difference. Although the tidal service is expensive and im not sure it will compete in this already large and saturated market. I’d be willing to check out the free trial.

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  25. Blake Boudreau April 28, 2015 / 6:08 am

    I think that this is great because finally Artist are able to get the money they deserve by producing their music instead of their music being downloaded illegally. I also disagree with the people saying that they already have enough money because I feel as if when they’re given more money they are going to not only produce better music but they’re going to donate a lot of the money into society.

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  26. mcdonaldb2013 April 28, 2015 / 1:43 pm

    I totally understand getting the money thats due to you for the work that you produce and I think this is especially an issue for new artists who are trying to take ownership of their work and break into the market. For these huge established artists, I get that its the principle of things but the amount of money they make on appearances alone is absurd, nevermind what they make off of everything else. I think Jay-z is one of the smartest business people out there but I do not think that this will click with consumers.

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  27. Amanda McKenzie April 28, 2015 / 2:19 pm

    Sure, Tidal might have better sound quality or early releases of Beyonce or Jay Z songs, but I don’t think many people are going to want to pay the high price for this when there are so many other free streaming apps or even just cheaper ones. Jay Z tweeted something saying this weekend saying how his business will pick up so people don’t have to worry, but personally i just don’t think people will ever want to pay this much for this kind of service.

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  28. William Cavalier April 28, 2015 / 3:16 pm

    I do believe artists should be compensated for their work and talent but i am definitely not complaining about free music. I think Jay-z is doing the right thing by purchasing tidal and trying to force the compensation of artist’s music. The creating and selling of music is their lives work and they deserve to be compensated for it. I think tidal has the potential to attract a large consumer base because its offering a lot of music and newer music straight from the artists since they are also owners. Spotify premium or even Pandora customers may take interest in Tidal.

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  29. Jimmy Clark April 28, 2015 / 7:14 pm

    With the increased popularity in steaming music like spotify and pandora is taking away from the compensation from popular artists. Itunes had a deal where when an artists sells a song that take a good deal of revenue from, but now with tunes dying out they might be in jeopardy of losing money. I like the idea if Jay Z coming out with Tidal and the fact he’s offering better quality, but being a college student who’s short on money I will probably be sticking with spotify just to save money. It’s not that I don’t want to help artists make money, but I myself don’t want to be losing money.

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  30. Ryan Zdanwich April 29, 2015 / 1:19 am

    All of the big artists today seem to enjoy their life from all the money they obtain from their great music, but I never knew what components of the music business actually pays out aside from concerts and endorsements etc. I also never realized the amount of people that illegally download free music and that we acquire their music without benefiting them.

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