Before diving in to performance, there are a few things you should know about TIDAL, if you don’t already. First, it’s owned by Jay-Z. When he’s not rapping, Jay goes by his real name, Shawn Carter. Shawn has regularly used his platform to support his community, his peers, and his culture. His venture with TIDAL follows suit. More on that later.
Second, TIDAL claims to pay artists and songwriters more in royalties than any of their counterparts. One reason this is possible is the platform’s ownership. While we’ve already covered Shawn as an owner, upon release these artists we also introduced as co-owners: Beyonce, Rihanna, Madonna, Alicia Keys, Nikki Minaj, Arcade Fire, Jack White, Daft Punk, Chris Martin, Jason Aldean, Kanye West, J. Cole, Usher, and deadmau5. Other artists have joined as stakeholders, as well. When you use TIDAL, you are supporting the artists and creators directly.
How We Reviewed TIDAL
We analyzed different elements consumers use when choosing which streaming platform to throw their hard-earned money at. If you weren’t down for the cause (above), we’ll see if you’re down for the count (below). We’ll rate the 4 most important components on a scale of 1-10, and see how TIDAL stacks up.
Best for: Anybody.
During this review, I’ll touch on some of the cool features that TIDAL brings to the table, but they honestly do SO much, and there are TONS of nooks and crannies to explore with the app, that it’d be impossible to list them all. Regardless of preferred genre, TIDAL has your favorite artists and tracks. The best sound quality available for those who take their music seriously. Tons of custom created or expertly curated playlists to discover new music, new artists, and old songs you may have never heard.
Aside from just the app, the pricing is affordable (especially if you can split the family plan), and there are a multitude of ways to save through discounts and partnerships.
Plain and simple, TIDAL just has more to offer. Its design is user friendly and has exclusives that others don’t. Oh, and no ads. Like, ever.
Remember when iTunes introduced genius, and you could find new music, based on the music you were already jamming? TIDAL does that, except even better. Whether its songs or the videos that accompany them, TIDAL takes the music you listen to already, breaks it up by wide genres, blends in similar songs, and hits you with a virtually endless playlist that you’ll love.
Get content first. Since some of your favorite artists are stakeholders, they’ll release their stuff on TIDAL before any other platform. You’ll get new releases first, and sometimes TIDAL is the only place to consume their new music and videos.
As I mentioned above, Jay Z has done tons of philanthropic work. He’s put on concerts for various causes, throughout the nation. Even if you can’t attend in person, TIDAL has you covered, as you can watch from the comfort of your couch and experience the moment in real-time.
60 Million Tracks and A Quarter Million Videos
A common misconception I had before converting, was that what I would gain in Hip-Hop exposure, I’d lose in other areas. I was wrong. Artists from every genre imaginable are found on TIDAL and so are their videos. Experience both online or off.
One of TIDAL’s biggest strengths is how seamlessly it works with other devices and apps. Functionality is smooth regardless of where you use it. My personal favorite is the compatibility with Waze, which allows you to stream and choose songs without exiting the app. Additionally, TIDAL (and Waze) has partnered with Ford and their SYNC Applink, to make your commutes and random road trips even more enjoyable.
Pricing & Available Subscriptions
When you’re ready to start your free trial, you will be asked to pick some of your favorite artists, across a myriad of genres. Once you’ve selected at least three artists, you’ll be prompted to select one of the subscriptions listed below.
Tidal Premium / TIDAL Premium Family
- Unlimited Skips
- Listen Offline
- Playlists Curated by Your Favorite Artists
- Exclusives (videos, live streams, and events)
TIDAL HiFi / TIDAL HiFi Family
- HiFi Sound Quality
- TIDAL Masters
- All Premium Features
- Live Video Channels
TIDAL x Best Buy
This feature is only for US-based Best Buy customers who are new to the TIDAL service or for members who are reactivating a canceled subscription. Options can only be purchased in store
- Premium: 90 Day Free Trial, Then $9.99/month OR $79.99/annual
- HiFi: 90 Day Free Trial, Then $15.99/month OR $119.99/annual
Price: 50% off
Options: Choice of Premium or HiFi
Military Active Duty Veteran/ Retiree Reserve/ Guard
Price: 40% Off
Options: Choice of Premium or HiFi
Options: Choice of Premium or HiFi
Bonus & Extras
In the least creepy way possible, TIDAL pays close attention to your listening habits. TIDAL provides you with custom playlists based on your own listening history. My Mix seems ever-evolving to your new vibes and is easily accessible while driving. You can also hop in the time machine and check out what you were listening to in June of ‘18 (“Never Say No” – Robby Hunter Band for me).
There are radio stations custom-built for you, based on the artists you listen to most, and they always bang. Outside of your own personal history, TIDAL can set the vibe for you, providing playlists based on vibes around the country. Do you want your music to take you to Summertime Chi? What about July in LA? TIDAL sets that mood for you with even more expertly curated playlists.
Documentaries, Podcasts, Live Events and Video Channels are all found in one convenient location and provide an avenue to get lost in creative content for a few hours.
Previous versions of the app provided recommended songs by simply swiping right, while on the ‘now playing’ screen. This introduced you to tons of new music, instantly. Once more, you could allow your new music, to introduce you to new music! Rabbit holes like this were usually reserved for twitter conspiracy theories and reddit threads.
The newest version of this app hid and limited this feature. You are now only able to access this feature at the bottom of a playlist you have created for yourself and your options are more limited. RIP ‘new music rabbit holes’, we hardly knew ye.
Can I Get An Encore? Do You Want More?
Despite the drawbacks reference above, the various pricing, etc. TIDAL still checks out. Even their chat box on their website was user-friendly and surprisingly helpful. With a true businessman at the helm, TIDAL continues to push the envelope in innovative ways, and strike deals and partnerships that benefit the user and the artist.
I originally signed up for TIDAL in ‘17 based on principle. I heard ‘artist-owned’ and was in. Since that time, however, TIDAL has grown in ways it’s competitors haven’t. It features, it’s sound quality, etc. stand out above the rest. It no longer needs to rely on its moral high ground, but it still doesn’t hurt.