Tidal: Why, Why and Why?


Joella Marano

Rapper and business mogul Jay Z is attempting to change the music industry with the launch of his new streaming service Tidal.

I will take the safe bet that anyone with a smartphone capable of downloading applications has Spotify. The biggest thing to come from the people of Sweden since wooden clogs and funny accents, Spotify is the service for anyone with an Internet connection and a computer to stream music playlists for entertainment anywhere. Not to mention, it’s free, one of many reasons it has an immense following. The service guides listeners to many music artists, expanding the person’s musical tastes and library of songs. Spotify is every musicophile’s dream.

During the month of March however, a huge advertising buzz swept the music industry, increasing hype over Tidal: the newest project from rap producer and entrepreneur Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter. Tidal does what Spotify already does for its audience, except with a focus on lossless audio. “Lossless” refers to how the digital music loses no quality from producer to consumer, meaning you get the music as the composer intended for you to listen to it, in the highest quality possible, with no bells and whistles missing.

Tidal costs $10 per month for normal quality and $20 per month for lossless audio. Only artists who sign on to the service are featured on it. However, unlike Spotify, Tidal is positioning itself as a service that has musical artists at the helm. For every person that buys into the $20 service, artists will receive double the royalties. But the big question in the music industry and on consumers’ minds is, “will Tidal take off as a critical and commercial success?”

The service has the enthusiastic support of Taylor Swift, Alicia Keys, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj and many others taking part in this unity of music superpowers. Their main goal presumably is to earn their share of royalties, and bigger profits.

Unfortunately, I feel this service will be successful because people will pay money for the most absurd of things, Tidal being one of those unreasonable investments. If there are people willing to invest money in a new TLC album, even though TLC should have the profits from it already, there are people with money to pay for a service as trivial as Tidal.

I wouldn’t pay for the best quality of anything if the normal quality of it were enough for me to enjoy and live life in peace. More importantly, I feel this is doing a disservice to music artistry because it puts money before professionalism. True artists are not influenced to make music through money; they are influenced by other music and by originality.

Firstly, these artists who have millions of fans and more money than a third world country’s total net worth are seeking to profit even more from the very people that enjoy their talents. After they’ve sold records, gone on tours, have been paid for public appearances and spread their likeness and approval to anything that can be labeled as merchandise for the masses to purchase, all of those actions are not enough to satisfy their desire to become richer.

Second, these artists are under the impression that the service will cause a revolution in the music industry. Their written declaration states, “Our movement is being led by a few who are inviting all to band together for a common cause, a movement to change the status quo.” Yeah. Change the status quo to what? Who knows if Arcade Fire or Daft Punk, bands relevant to my tastes, suddenly decide to stop releasing their material on anything else but Tidal? I wouldn’t care much. I can move on. But for others who enjoy their music, they’d have to subscribe to Tidal just to listen to the music they love. Most of these artists are already rich enough to never have to sell another album again in their lives, yet they are trying to squeeze more money out of consumers. I have no idea where the “artistry” part of the music comes from that.

Third, for a service to deem that lossless high fidelity music is its main selling point is a lost cause, because consumers don’t care about lossless audio. Personally, I don’t listen to lossless high fidelity music because the fact that I have any music at all with me is all that matters to me. Plus, the service might not include classical or world music sometime soon, which may seem insignificant to others, but to me, it would make Tidal a bit more appealing.

As much as I don’t want this service to catch on, it might, because the public can’t live without music in their life.  Some people will pay for the simple privilege of using their ear to listen to noise, whether it is in high quality or not. However, seeing as how no student, adult or local news group in Chicago is even mentioning the existence of Tidal, it may take a long time before the owners of Tidal see even a million subscribers under their belt.