Tidal finally has some balls to stand up to Spotify and Apple Music. With the release of their new feature, people will now be able to adjust the tempo and length of any song on the catalog, giving the service a unique edge on their two biggest competitors, Spotify and Apple Music. And with their announcements that Tidal both pays their artists the most out of any streaming service and is now offering "high-fidelity" lossless streaming, this might be a good time to reconsider the service.
But are these features enough to take down the sheer number of subscribers Spotify has, and the exclusives that Apple Music offers for artists? Could be. Tidal is doing pretty well with exclusives. Both Dr. Dre
's The Life of Pablo
could only be found there when they were first released. Beyonce
is still only there. It's hard to tell though, which service has the advantage, because Apple Music had Drake
, Frank Ocean
, and Rihanna
's albums released last year as exclusives on there.
I've never really thought those mattered though. I've been on Spotify since 2011, and exclusives have never made me reconsider. With all of the exclusives that have been released on both Tidal and Apple Music, my reaction has always "oh well, I guess I'll wait and check out some of the other 30 million tracks I have a click a way." They always come to Spotify eventually.
And how could they not? Spotify has the highest number of users; and an artist's music has the potential to reach more people. And for an upcoming artist, streaming solely on Tidal or Apple Music doesn't make sense, especially when there is potential for more money just by the larger number of streams that you're getting from Spotify. There's rarely an exclusive that stays solely on one service. Lemonade
is the only one I can think of, but that was more of a political statement from somebody who doesn't need to rely on Spotify for support. And that's awesome, but newer artists can't do that.
They need Spotify and Apple Music right now. They need every platform they can get their hands on. As of right now, Taylor Swift
(removing 1996's Reasonable Doubt
) are the only prevalent artists who have jumped ship from Spotify. And Spotify's massive number of subscribers is why. The only way I can see Tidal pulling forward is by offering exclusives for 1000s of bands and artists, but they would lose so much short-term money if they were to do that - because the artist would want to have their music everywhere, and would only consider not if they're offered enough. That would be a lot for Tidal to do. It might not even be worth it.
The lossless streaming that they do is cool, but does anybody other than the purest of audiophiles even care? I don't think so. Most of the music that is listened to through streaming services are through cheap apple ear-pods or by $20 Sony headphones bought at Wal-Mart. And even if you did happen to have a high-quality system, most people can't even tell the difference between 320 kbps mp3 and a 1411 kbps lossless track.
This coupled with the fact that in order to get this high-quality experience, people have to pay $20 a month, as opposed to the $10 ($5 for college students) for Spotify, and $10 for Apple Music; the price jump doesn't seem that justified. And with the people listening through streaming being in their 20s and late teens chances are most aren't going to have that $1000 listening system, or even a $200 system for that matter.
This new song edit function looks like it could change things though. It would be a way to get people into totally new types of music, maybe even making new artists in the process; using this as a way to get their feet wet in music manipulation without that much complexity. I could also see people on Tidal making entire playlists off song edits of famous songs, and even though adjusting tempo and length might not seem like much, it can change the whole vibe of a song. Whole new careers can emerge from this.
Right now, Spotify is most definitely in the top spot for streaming services, but Tidal is looking to the more forward thinking of the platforms right now with their song editing option, and their better treatment of artists. Even though I'm too loyal a Spotify user to consider switching, I can definitely see why people would want to use Tidal. And who knows? If they keep making innovations like this, it might switch over a big ol' Spotify lover like me.