What Is Tidal?
Simply put, Tidal is a music streaming service. Think Spotify, Pandora, iTunes Radio, and Soundcloud. Tidal was originally a Scandinavian-based service called WiMP that started in Norway in 2010. Jay-Z started bidding on WiMP’s developer Aspiro AS in January and eventually bought them out for 56 million dollars. The acquisition of Aspiro AS gave Jay-Z ownership of WiMP and, after a trendy name change, it was re-released to the United States as Tidal.
He can smell your net worth.
Should I Get Tidal?
This question is entirely dependent on the type of music-listener you are. The service’s primary selling point is high quality audio. It offers music in an uncompressed format called “lossless.” Lossless provides the type of listening experience one would typically associate with a CD. However, what you and I are more accustomed to is “.mp3.” Songs on Spotify and iTunes are .mp3. When a song is in this format it is highly compressed and “stripped” of sound quality. Thusly, it ends up being smaller in size. It is this trade-off that makes .mp3 more convenient, but lesser in quality. What Tidal hopes to do is offer a library entirely comprised of lossless quality music.
Another feature that Tidal boasts is exclusive music. Tidal has not been out for long but has already featured exclusive releases from high-profile acts such as Beyoncé and Rihanna. These two stars, and several other musicians, co-own Tidal. These musicians include Win Butler from Arcade Fire, Kanye West, Daft Punk, Jack White, Nicki Minaj, Madonna, Usher, Alicia Keys, and J. Cole. This means that all of the aforementioned artists may be releasing exclusive, Tidal-first music in the future.
A star-studded stage for the Tidal release event.
Tidal sets itself apart because it dives deeper into the music. Highly specialized playlists, excellent quality music videos, and written feature stories are ways that it delivers the best possible experience to users. But this experience is not free. The service is $19.99/month for the lossless library version. For regular quality songs you’ll be paying $9.99/month, rivaling Spotify’s premium offering.
When I first heard that Jay-Z was bidding on a music streaming service in January I thought “Oh, cool,” and moved on with my life. I mean, it’s no secret that Jay is wealthy; the fact that he was investing his money in such a massive project was by no means surprising. However, it wasn’t until the end of March when my interest was finally piqued. I was hearing about Tidal all over the web: Tidal this, Tidal that, “future-of-music” this, “lossless-quality audio” that. I had to try it. The 30-second samples just weren’t enough so I decided to sign myself up for a free trial. Here’s what I found.
Let me get the whole audio quality thing straight right off the bat. Yes, the sound is fantastic. No, it will not be apparent if you use the wrong equipment. I listened to Tidal via three different methods. I first used my pair of cheap Sony ear buds. With these ear buds I was barely able to discern Tidal from Spotify in terms of audio quality. I then hooked up Tidal to my small desktop speakers and, again, not much of a difference. However, Tidal really blew me away when I threw on my studio quality headphones. The sound was crisp, clear, and all-around superb. Rihanna’s new single “B*tch Better Have My Money”, which is Tidal-exclusive, made me feel like I was her producer on the other side of the studio glass. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t dance.
Don’t be surprised if bushy eyebrows are suddenly “in” this summer.
There are a couple more details worth mentioning. The layout itself is very familiar. I felt like I was using a sophisticated Spotify. Buffering at times is slow. For example, sometimes I’ll choose a song and it won’t start for a second or two. The music library is large, but if you’re looking for something rare, you’re out of luck here.
Tidal’s interface on three media devices.
This app is for music nerds, audiophiles, Jay-Z disciples, and financially established individuals. If you fit one of those four then this is what you’ve been waiting for. However, if you’re the average, broke college student or a casual music listener with no regard for audio quality then look elsewhere. I recommend doing the month-long trail to check it out regardless. Overall, it is an excellent app that that will most certainly have an impact on the way we approach digitized music.