Tidal for 30 days

Testing out my trial for Tidal was pretty straightforward.  The layout of the web version looks just like Spotify, but I suppose that was bound to happen.  It’s a nice service with exclusive content, but strictly pay for play platform with no free option like what Spotify and Pandora offer.  Honestly, it yielded the expected results.  But, why are they trying to make me care about Beyonce making more money?

The Twitter marketing seemed off from the jump, but it’s this constant touting of Tidal as a revolution that screams particularly foul.  The truth is, it’s another streaming service with it’s own unique assets, but another service nonetheless.  What’s more off-putting is when the artists you place on the stage to present this are established and already very well off pillars of the music community.  Beyonce, Kanye West, Madonna and Nicki Minaj need more of my money?  Whereas I understand putting your big names behind the business to reach a wider audience, if you’re approach is your streaming service puts more money in the hands of the “starving artists,” shouldn’t you put the starving ones out in front or nah?

At the end of the day, it’s still a trick pivot to somehow bypass the larger problem: labels.   Spotify claims that they’ve “paid more than two billion dollars to labels, publishers and collecting societies for distribution to songwriters and recording artists.”  Okay, so how is Tidal going to make it rain on artists like they say they will?

“How Sway???”

More money to the label is meant to equal more money to the artist.  It seems this fight for monetary compensation for the artists, while is admirable in theory, seems to be directed at the wrong people.  It’s not the streaming services that are the problem, but the labels.  It’s one of those universally understood truths that the labels will inherently take as much as humanly possible.  I admit, I forgot about the label’s roll in music streaming services.  After all, who owns the rights to these catalogs and who’s permission is ultimately required to license this music? Oh, that’s right.

If only this had been marketed better.  Put the little unknown artists that you should know out first, and made the known millionaires who are selling out world tours silent or quieter supporters.  This service should have been about music snobbery and exclusive content.  Turn the public into discerning snobs by touting Tidal as providing a better quality of sound.  Educate listeners on “quality” sound so that Bob Johnson from apartment 2B who hasn’t bought a CD since 2001 can feel like he’s a sonic connoisseur because he listens to Tidal with its CD quality lossless files and you pedestrians are missing out.  Tidal should have been about creating fake music snobs, not trying to get consumers to spend more on a streaming service they already don’t pay for just because artists deserve their money too.

The service is fine enough, but nobody is really going to leave free services just because it puts more money into funding Madonna’s personal trainer.  By all means, put more money into the hands of these struggling Indie artists.  God knows they could use it.  But, don’t use Alicia Keys and Daft Punk to sell the idea that a revolution is necessary and on the horizon via Tidal.   Besides, it seems more and more that if there is a “revolution,” it should be aimed at the labels, not the streaming services.

*one day, I’ll post things on time instead of letting them fester in my drafts. One day…

Tidal and Premium Losslessness

Everyone knows music streaming sites like Spotify simply do not create revenue for artists when the music is offered for free. It’s the nature of streaming. A flat monthly fee to stream as much as you want doesn’t exactly scream “cash-cow” for anyone. Jay- Z’s “Tidal” is a music streaming platform owned by artists and another option for pedestrians. Cool. I’m all for it especially after hearing about how negligible the returns are from Spotify for a musician friend.  Between the premium offer of access to lossless files (with a $19.99 per month subscription) and rumored potential for previously unseen content from artists, clips from live shows, interviews and an artist run blog, it’s a pretty interesting offer.  It just rings a bit hollow when the artists post tweets that sound similar to non-profit foundation support instead of a paid service.

Is the $19.99 really worth it? Depends on who you are, I suppose. Source: Warner Bros

The biggest question is, “Is this all worth $19.99 a month?” Short answer: depends on who you are.  If you’re an audiophile who prefers access to lossless files and has decent enough headphones, sure.  Now, I’m still a novice in the world of music technology but from what I understand, MP3s and other lossy formats have bytes of audio information missing from the file, making it sound not as multi-dimensional as a lossless file such as the quality found on CDs. The process of compression usually involves the removal of “unimportant” sounds and overtones seem to go first. (Somebody correct me if that’s not quite right!)

Now, that sounds all well and dandy but hearing the difference sometimes requires a little more than the file. First, you’d need some boss-ass headphones. Some tend to say even the jack will effect the quality of the sound.  Second thing is, the size of these puppies. MP3s are compressed so you can fit a bunch on a phone, iPod, computer or other device. Lossless files are fucking big. Streaming a big file on your wifi just sounds like you’d annoy your household for monopolizing so much bandwidth when your roommate is trying to watch The X-Files before Netflix removes it. The struggle is real. Streaming from your phone using a data plan just sounds fucking expensive. I mean maybe after I pay off my student loans. Sure.

It looks like this $19.99 a month subscription is primarily intended for audiophiles with pretty decent equipment to begin with. Joe who is used to hearing Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj on YouTube at work with $3.00 Walmart headphones might not give 1/10 of a fuck but a music nerd probably will.  It just doesn’t seem to be the angle they’re taking with the relaunch marketing.  It’s still relatively early but I will say how it will do compared to its competitors Spotify, GooglePlay and and Apple’s Beats Music. I’m going to enjoy this 30 day free trial for the short time I have it.