Tidal takes a big shot at Spotify

Tidal, the streaming music service once owned by Jay-Z and is now the property of Square (owned by Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter), is taking a big shot at Spotify and all the other streaming services.

Starting in 2022, Tidal will make several big changes. First, like Spotify, it will offer a free ad-supported tier. Second, a $10-a-month plan will come with the high-quality audio (known as Tidal HiFi Plus) once only available on the platform’s $20-a-month plan. And to compensate, the audio available on the $20-a-month-plan will be even better than before with support for Dolby ATMOS and Sony 360, among other things.

Even more important, though, is Tidal’s revamping of its artist payment system.

Other streaming platforms work like this: At the end of the month, all the revenues are tallied up. If you as an artist had 10% of the streams that month, then you get 10% of the pot. This means that if you listen to non-superstar artists, the money you paid into the system didn’t go to the people who actually made the music you listened to. The argument is that this system penalizes niche artists and enriches the superstars disproportionately. The entire streaming industry is under pressure to do something about the way they compensate artists. “User-centric” payments may be the way to go.

Tidal plans to follow this model when it comes to revenues derived from the Hifi Plus plan. This would be very much in line with Tidal’s “artist-friendly streaming service” promise.

It should be noted that SoundCloud has begun implementing user-centric payments in a limited way. Deezer, France’s streaming service, has been trying to move in this direction for some time.

It’ll be interesting to see if the three big dogs in this space (Spotify, Apple, and Amazon Music) respond in any way.

Further details here and here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.