Tidal is the rebranded streaming service for music that offers high definition audio and private content to those who are subscribed. The service has actually been around since 2009 under the name WiMP. In March 2014, WiMP was bought by rapper Jay Z for $56 million dollars, and then changed to Tidal.
Most streaming services like Spotify and Pandora offer free music streaming, which is why they are so popular; Tidal is premium only. For access to its catalog in standard definition audio, a subscriber would pay $9.99 a month (equivalent to Spotify Premium). However, there is also the high definition subscription for $19.99 per month.
“Personally I don’t think it’s worth $19.99 a month,” DeAna Laudicina, a sophomore, said. “Why pay extra money for something that pretty much already exists, but now there is a high definition one. I’ll keep my free Spotify with commercials over Tidal any day.”
Tidal has exclusive content from artists that are locked to the service before being released on other channels such as YouTube or SoundCloud. In the few weeks since Tidal has been on the market, fans have been forced to sign up for Tidal to get exclusive tracks from artists like Beyoncé, because it is the only place the new tracks are available. Other artist content includes exclusive videos, music video releases and videos from some artists' first television performances.
Beyoncé recently released her new song “Die With You,” which involves her sitting at a piano singing the ballad to memorialize her and Jay Z’s seventh wedding anniversary, filmed by Jay Z. The only way to see the video, however, is to subscribe to Tidal, making this the exclusive content that Jay Z is hoping will attract users to Tidal.
“Leave it to Beyoncé and Jay Z to try and make more money off people,” said Kim Huey, junior. “They claim that it was a special anniversary song … then why publish it to the web at all if it’s so sentimental to you? Because you want the money.”
Sophomore Krysta Cosenza had a similar opinion about the exclusive content.
“This is just another way for Beyoncé to rip off her fans,” she said. “Cause they will all pay the membership fee for this, and continue to buy her CDs and her fan club accounts. She is the biggest scam artist out there.”
The streaming service is planning on solely using star power to convert users, with artists like Beyoncé, Rihanna and Kanye West. Beyoncé's and Rihanna’s fans are known for buying their music digitally; Tidal, however, requires the artists to take a personal hit for the good of the company.
By only having a total of 12 artists currently signed to Tidal, their rate for success seems rather slim, since the company only reaches 12 fan bases and it is possible that not every fan of these artists is going to want to spend the $20 a month when they can just buy their CD for $15.
Essentially the only artists who still sell albums are huge stars who make their music exclusive, forcing people to pay for their music. Take for example Taylor Swift, who took all her music off of Spotify in November 2014. Her album 1989 soon became the number one selling album because the only way to listen to it was to actually purchase it.
Tidal may not be new, but their business model still seems unsound from the outside looking in, the Jay Z-led company will have to rely on brand name to turn a profit.