When Jay -Z and his motley crew of artist took the stage on monday to announce the arrival of new music service Tidal, the scene, lets admit this, was weird. Like watching the cool kids in the school hierarchy (Rihanna, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys) being forced to socialise with the kids that like to wear elaborate headgear (Deadmau5, Daft Punk) with Calvin Harris awkwardly streamed via webcam. Aside from the slightly uncomfortable viewing, what will this mean to music scene and how will this influence how you listen to music? We delved into the word of Tidal to find out.
First things first, Tidal is a completely artist owned music streaming site. The high rollers in music have come together and collectively combined to create a dedicated streaming service, comparable with mega music app Spotify.
The first major difference is the costing policy adopted by Tidal. Currently there is no option for a free version. Whilst your not interrupted by pesky ads you do have to commit to a £9.99 monthly charge for a bog standard account, with this rising to £20 a month for high definition content. While this won’t put off the diehard music lovers, £120 a year is a commitment which many will see as a cost too far.
The other main difference is where the profits from streaming goes. Its been well documented that artists are becoming increasingly rilled up with the whole streaming royalties saga which should be lining their pockets, well… currently aren’t. Tidal aims to rectify this ensuring that streaming profits are paid directly to the artist.
The interface is user friendly, simple to use but sleek in design, nothing less than you would expect from Jay-Z. A quick search of the site shows that there are currently more than enough obscure artists to please an average user. Those looking to delve a little deeper into the search function shows that some of the compilation albums are unavailable which are currently available on other more developed sites. This could be teething problems which is reasonable whilst the site grows and gains momentum.
However, competition is fierce, what with Spotify, Blinkbox, Deezer and Youtube to name but a few. There is already a firm standing in the music streaming business which is only due to get worse. Apple acquired Beats from Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine for $3 billion last year and is due for a release in mid 2015. The need to draw in paying customers and build a loyal fan base is essential.
The beauty of Tidal is its potential to help unsigned, struggling artists help find a platform in order to become noticed. By shining the spotlight on these artists it can help gain notoriety in an otherwise difficult environment. This is however, completely dependant on whether this potential is harnessed.
Being as the streaming market accounts for over 10% of todays revenue its vital that Tidal brings in membership, the gimmick of having the biggest earners in music combine in some weird superhero crew can only go so far. Its main test will be how it draws in and keeps things fresh, or whether profit is the only motivation fuelling this new adventure.