March 31, 2015 2:43 PM Subscribe
Yesterday, Jay-Z's streaming music service Tidal was launched. The press event featured over a dozen celebrity musicians as signing "owners" of the service (each reportedly received 3% equity in exchange for exclusive content), and, by some accounts, was a bit awkward and content-free. At $19.99, the subscription plan is double the cost of competing services like Spotify, and no "freemium" plan is offered. The justification is two-fold: 1. Artists should be compensated fairly for streaming; and 2. The service's high-fidelity, lossless streaming is far superior to the current standard (320 kbps AAC, as Spotify and Rdio currently provide.) You can take an online blind test between 320 kbps AAC and Tidal's lossless streaming, to see if you have the "equipment and ears" for lossless music. Is there really a noticeable difference, or is this snake oil? Will the artist-forward approach change the conversation and ingrained habits of streaming music listeners? Is Tidal a sort of streaming for the 1% rather than for struggling independent musicians? Is it a walled garden for artists at the expense of fans? Or is this all simply a great vertical move for Jay-Z's Roc Nation label? So many questions.
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