On Monday, King Jay Z — surrounded by his fellow music Royalty brethren like Queen Beyonce, Princess Madonna and Court Jester Kanye West — announced to the masses that they will no longer have to suffer the tyranny of free streaming music sites like Spotify, what with their less than superb sound quality and lack of Taylor Swift songs.
No, Hova announced, now the people will be able to sport their $100+ Beats By Dre™ headphones and listen to drum machines and looped samples as God intended — in high quality HD sound and no 10-second ads after three or four songs to sully one’s listening experience.
It’s called Tidal, and all the people have to do is fork over $20 a month for such a privilege (or $10 a month for a lesser quality version that’s basically the same quality as Spotify). And because Jay Z is a man, nay King, of his convictions, there will be no free version of Tidal. So if you can’t afford $240 a year for streaming music through your buds at your desk at work, consider Tidal the velvet rope to a club you are obviously not getting into.
Jokes aside, the real question here is this: Will people, after years of streaming music via Spotify and Rdio for free, be willing to fork over $20 a month for a better quality sounding music? The issue here is whether people are listening to streaming music through good speakers and headphones, because with cheap earbuds not many will probably notice the difference. I know for myself, I do prefer better quality audio — when I am listening to music at home. But I do not stream music at home, I listen to my CDs and vinyl there, so there is no justification in switching over.
To show they are not just an expensive Spotify, Tidal has announced they will provide exclusive content only available through their service, which is a plus for fans of rare and unreleased music by their favorite artists like myself. The question again is, would that convince me to switch? And the answer is no, no it will not. For others? Maybe.
They will also provide videos, something Spotify surely does not. It is also an artist collaboration, where other musicians are partners in this venture, which is a good thing and might convince Spotify to maybe up the pay-per-listen for artists. Or it could not, since people tend more toward “free” than “pay.”
So unless something dramatically changes for Spotify content, Tidal will probably be a cool service for audiophiles and people who can toss around $240 a year to stream music. For most others, they will probably ignore it.