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Tidal Vs Spotify (And Tidal’s Potential Beyond 2016)

I have been an avid Spotify user for the past 3 or 4 years now. It allows you to listen to what you want, when you want, and however many times you want. Recently, I have been very interested in the JayZ-owned music streaming service called Tidal.

There are some slight and major differences in the two music streaming services. Let’s go over some of the basics.

Pricing & Quality

SPOTIFY

Spotify costs $10 a month for premium users. You can pay 99cents to get three months of premium if you are on the fence.

  • Normal quality on mobile
    • 96kbps
  • Desktop and web player standard quality / High Quality on mobile
    • 160kbps
  • Desktop high quality / Extreme quality on mobile
    • 320 kbps (only available to premium subscribers)

TIDAL

Tidal costs $9.99 a month to get the same quality sound of music as Spotify, and it costs $19.99 a month if you want to hear the “Lossless” or CD quality service. You can also get $1.50 discount if you prepay for 6 months.

  • Normal Quality
    • 96kbps
  • High Quality
    • 320kbps
  • HiFi
    • Flac 1411 kbps – Lossless

The Library & Content

Song Count – Advantage goes to Tidal

How many songs does Spotify have?

~30 million

How many songs does Tidal have?

~40 Million

Exclusivity – Advantage goes to Tidal

Tidal has been making waves by adding exclusively to it’s list of key content additions. For example, Beyonce’s LEMONADE music movie can only be found on Tidal, and Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo could only be found on Tidal for it’s first 47 days of release. Some other artists that were exclusively on Tidal included JayZ, Rihanna, Radiohead, and Prince. Exclusivity in this case also includes things like movies and special features that these artists release that give you sort of an inside look at these artists lives. Content like this can already be found all over Youtube, but it is nice if you are a Tidal subscriber to be able to be able to watch music videos along with your music without having to sift through tons of fake youtube videos or videos that are just lyrics.

Furthermore, Tidal is in recent talks to be acquired by Apple, which also held exclusive rights to artists like Taylor Swift and Drake. Side Note: This deal makes sense for mulitple reasons. However the only way I see this deal actually going down is if JayZ can land on top. Although as of right now Tidal is way behind on Apple Music, it would only take a couple of Artists jumping ship from Apple to Tidal to change the exclusivity game. And after all – JayZ is “for the Artists.”

Adding to the Library – Advantage goes to Spotify

Spotify allows you to add music from your own library. This means that if they don’t have that Prince song you love, and you happen to have the CD, you can add it yourself. You currently cannot do this with Tidal.

Device/Application Support & The Community

First off, if you have a Windows phone, you can forget about using Tidal. It does not offer support for this device and has instead opted to “Forego” support for this device and decided to only focus on the most popular devices according to their website.

And even with Tidal’s recent addition of support of Google Chromecast (which Spotify has had since the middle of 2015), Spotify still seems to be a lot more accessible or reachable. For example, you can find Spotify on PS4 as one of the main features. It integrates perfectly with the controller and you can even play it while you are playing your favorite video games. This is a huge advantage in my opinion for Spotify because the Playstation 4 is used for everything from Netflix, to Video games, to browser surfing, and of course – Spotify.

Spotify App on PS4
Spotify App on PS4

Spotify also boasts 75+ million users that are basically all on Facebook. It is easy to share content with these users as well as discover new music by following people and checking out their playlists.

The Interface and Usability

Both apps have a black background and a very sleek look. Both work relatively fast. However the advantage here goes to Spotify. In my opinon, It “feels” like it is easier to find music, and the Tidal desktop app seems to be a “jumpy” as it takes a second for all of the search results to appear when you are searching.

There are also some weird quirks I find annoying with Tidal in the design. For example, I have already been confused with Tidal’s desktop app multiple times when trying to simply drag the app across my desktop. It has a very small selectable space at the top that is difficult to find and click and drag. Small issue, but just something that shows Tidal’s youth.

Streaming music is an extremely competitive space. So many former giants have been taken down by the law (Napster, Kazaa) as well as the inability to remain profitable (like Rdio and Turntable.fm). Right now it seems that Tidal might have something with there exclusivity. It has lead to a massive growth rate in a short period of time and can be further amplified if Tidal Reaches a deal with Apple Music. Tidal definitely could benefit from Apple’s developer core and business infrastructure. Tidal just seems to be winging it on a high level on this front at the moment.

However if any of that will matter will be yet to seen. Spotify has a huge headstart, a team of developers that have been doing this for a while, and is currently on way more devices that are available on the market. The potential is there for Tidal, but in the next year we will know a lot more.