A big bunch of middle aged superstars got together to explain to the world why they need more of your money…
Unfair? Maybe but when they have a collected worth of $2.5 Bn and insist on quoting Nietzsche (badly) in a breathtaking display of post adolescent pretentiousness then they are fair game IMHO.
What on earth is it?
Tidal is a streaming service where you can pay some of the money you make by doing proper work to people who arse about for a living. You won't get to own it though. You'll just rent a listen.
Depending upon which superstar floats your boat then it is a 'Game changer' a 'Beginning of a new world' or dare we suggest that they are becoming 'The avengers of music'. Yep they really said that.
Why is it different to spotify?
Because it streams in lossless FLAC which as we all know is MILES better than CD quality and that's really really important when you are listening through poundshop PC speakers or those little crappy earbuds that came with your overpriced iPhone.
How much is it?
£19.99 per month. Strangely some people have been claiming that it is the same price all over the world because it's $19.99 and CAN$19.99 but that's just the economics of George Osborne because as anyone who's ever used a credit card in a Dublin pub will tell you there's a little thing called an exchange rate. Once again the Brits are getting shafted because the Americans think that we're too thick to work out that $19.99 is actually £13.49. If that's not the case then I'm going to change my IP address and buy it in Yen because then it'll cost me 11p.
You're being unfair again.
Yes I am because there's a 'lite' option that's only £9.99 but then again it streams the lower quality thus missing out what is supposed to be Tidals' USP. The 'great' quality you get.
But surely it's giving more money to artists isn't it?
Erm yeah SOME artists. If you think that the endorsements from a somewhat emotional Alicia Keys et al are some sign of a communist utopia then think again. Sources suggest that all of those appearing at the somewhat stilted and awkward launch event owned a $3m chunk and ongoing shares. Spotify turns over something in the region of $1bn and still doesn't make a profit and yet this more expensive product is likely to hand over more to new up and comers? Unlikely I'd suggest.
So why should I buy it?
If you are wearing a $10,000 apple watch, whilst driving your Tesla up a pay to use motorway then I'd say that Tidal is the one for you. Make sure you have a pair of headphones that cost at least £500 though because otherwise you won't hear the difference. The likelihood is that the service will feature exclusive launches from Madonna, Jay-z and Taylor Swift, all of which would require them to give ME £20 a month but all the same also actually reduces choice for the majority.
If you still think Tidal is for you then I have just become heir to a $20bn fortune but I need your bank details to get it out of the African country it is stored in...
But another streaming service is better for artists isn't it?
After all Taylor Swift pulled her back catalogue from Spotify after a row about it streaming her music on the freemium service. She has a point regarding it giving the impression that music has no value.
But it's not a democracy. Ordinary artists won't be able to upload their music and the truth is that the element of choice really only extends to those who have the money to pay for it. If you're a signed and bankrolled artist then you're in, if you're just good at what you do then forget it. The premise that streaming services are somehow ripping off the artists just isn't true. In fact their labels make much more money from streaming than either the artists that produced the music or the streaming service that serves it.
Is Tidal a gamechanger? I suspect not. At the moment Spotify has 15m premium users and many more using freemium. Apple is shortly to launch into a crowded market but has the ability to load it's streaming service onto a quarter of the worlds smartphones in one fell swoop. Tidal faces stiff competition.
For me a true gamechanger would do much more and would cut out the sparkly dress and gold chain encrusted nonsense peddling snake oil sellers in favour of a feature rich service that helps sell music at the top end and launch careers at the bottom of the ladder.
If you want to test whether your kit will take lossless audio then why not have a go at this independent test http://abx.digitalfeed.net/. If you can't tell the difference then take your money and buy a CD from a local band at one of their gigs. I promise that it will mean an awful lot more to them than to Rihanna.
You can check out Tidal here and decide for yourself. http://tidal.com/us