Tidal streaming service promises better royalties for indie musicians

by | Apr 10, 2015 | Biz/Tech

Ryan Durgy
Biz/Tech Reporter

A-list artists like Jay Z, Beyonce, Rihanna, Chris Martin and Calvin Harris recently made waves in the music industry by launching their music streaming service, Tidal.

Tidal claims to be the first streaming service to offer “High-Fidelity sound quality, High Definition music videos and expertly Curated Editorial.”

The app has received criticism since last week’s launch because of the wealthy high-profile artists involved in a service meant to give back to artists and writers.

Tidal’s official Twitter account said the service gives 75 per cent of the $19.95 US monthly subscription fee to artists’ music labels that then distribute it to their artists and writers.

One student trying out Tidal is Nick Densmore, a student in Humber’s Radio Broadcast post-graduate program and a singer-musician who has performed at Humber College’s LinX Lounge for more than three years.

“I like it. It’s sleek. It’s up there with Spotify with a pretty sleek interface,” Densmore said.

Densmore said he has his music on the streaming sites Soundcloud and YouTube and would consider uploading his music to Tidal, if the service allowed for it.

“I’m of the thought if your music can get out there in a new and different way, why wouldn’t you do it? Try to be the cool kid. Try to get your stuff out there anyway you can,” said Densmore.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a user-generated app at all,” Densmore said. “I don’t think it’s there yet and I don’t think it would be in the best interest of these big money-makers to do that yet, because now they control the content. I think that’s the power.”


He said he believes there is a place for a user-generated app for new artists, but Tidal isn’t it.

Jay Z purchased Tidal earlier this year from Swedish tech firm Aspiro for a reported $56 million.

Laura O’Brien, also a postgrad Radio Broadcasting student, likes the idea of Tidal but thinks there is enough free streaming to allow her to avoid paying for a service like it.

“I think $19.99 is a ridiculous amount of money to pay for a streaming app, especially when you have things like Songza or Spotify that provide so much for free already,” O’Brien said.

“While it’s really cool that Jay Z is backing this program, it’s not enough for me to be interested in purchasing it,” O’Brien said.

Jay Z removed one of his fan-favourite albums, Reasonable Doubt, from rival streaming service Spotify a week after launching Tidal. However, the album still appears on other streaming services like Rdio.

Some fans said they saw Jay Z’s move as a way to attract Spotify users, who currently pay $9.99 a month for the premium version.

Densmore said he doesn’t think Tidal will allow new artists to upload their content onto the service any time soon.

“It’s like you throwing a party, an exclusive event. There’s pride and dignity in throwing an exclusive event for your friends,” Densmore said.

“The moment everyone comes to your party it’s not exclusive and it’s not cool anymore. (Tidal could) get flooded with a lot of content that, let’s face it, people may not like and then it’s going to become a mass maze of garbage at the end,” he said.


For Canadian artists like Pat Maloney, who has drummed for the band Two Crown King and been involved with eight album releases, the profits from streaming seem slim.

“It’s so little,” Maloney said. “In a quarter, if I have 1,000 streams I would make 35 cents.

“It does seem a little unfair but that being said it’s the internet and I understand how that works,” he said.

Maloney was Radio Humber’s artist of the month last August and played two shows at the college this school year.

He said selling merchandise and albums at shows is where he makes most of his revenue as an artist.

Tidal is currently allowing users to try the service with a free 30-day trial and has a test at test.tidalhifi.com/intro for listeners to see if they can hear the difference between Tidal’s High Fidelity audio and standard MP3 quality sound.