Jay-Z’s Tidal wants to take on Spotify and keep revenues for itself

31 Mar 2015

Image via Tidal

Jay-Z’s Tidal music streaming service was launched amid scenes of self-congratulation for launching a premium music site at a premium cost in a bid to curb tech companies making revenue from their work.

At a ceremony last night that drew widespread confusion and criticism alike, many of the world’s biggest artists including Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna and Jack White came together to literally sign up to the music streaming service that will charge users US$20 per month to listen to high-quality streams of their songs.

While very little has been released by the now US-owned Swiss service, it gained notoriety recently in the build up to yesterday’s launch with the news that Taylor Swift had agreed to release her music for streaming through the service after pulling it from the biggest music streaming services on the web.

What is certain however about Tidal is that this is an effort by musicians to form a cabal against what they see as their revenues being taken away from them by tech companies, particularly Spotify, who offer music for free online but place adverts throughout.

Those who log on to Tidal today will see a layout similar in style to Spotify but with a limitation of 30 seconds of low-quality audio play, unless you sign up to their service, which includes a seven-day trial, compared with its competitors’ 30-days.

#TidalforAll or #TidalforSome?

Interestingly, it appeared that the criticism the service found for looking to charge users US$20 per month under the banner #TidalforAll was jumping the gun slightly as it seems that in the time after they launch, there appears to also be a lower quality streaming subscription costing US$10 per month, but whether people are willing to make the switch for a relatively similar service remains to be seen.

In its favour is that the world’s largest artists who are signed up to it, who are in many cases heads of their own record labels also, will offer exclusive timed content.

Meanwhile, Spotify don’t seem to have much fears over its dominance being threatened after its head of communications and public policy, Jonathan Prince said of the threat of losing major artists, “We want all the world’s music on our service, but there has been sporadic windowing on Spotify since it was ­created. We know from experience that these things happen, they come and go.”

Much consternation occurred online over the launch which included a promotional video of musicians saying they were attempting to change music forever and even included Madonna sprawling over a table to sign their declaration.

Meanwhile artists and some familiar names in tech were a little more welcoming.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic