I love Spotify. I became a user in England about a year before anyone in the United States even had access to the service. I have been a paid user ever since.
Last year two new popular services came about. Apple Music and Tidal. In regards to the first, after seeing how Apple butchered my existing Music library on my iPhone with iOS 9 I have yet to try Apple Music. As for the second service, Tidal came along in the uniquest of ways.
Mimicking the founding fathers signing the Declaration of Independence, Tidal lined up several Artists on a stage and had each of them sign the companies constitution. It was meant to be symbolically powerful but it didn't seem like the music industry revolution as it was intended. It was missing something.
The Tidal Declaration came across as "tech ignorant". If that isn't a term yet, I'm coining it now. While already successful artists can build a walled garden around exclusivity of future releases, there is much more to building a successful product then simply access to exclusivity.
A year later that core thesis is being put the test. Exclusive album releases by Rihanna most recently and this week by Kanye West with his new album "The Life Of Pablo".
And since declaring this his album a Tidal exclusive it has been pirated over half a million times. For a man who is supposedly $53 million dollars in "debt", I am curious as the amount of money that a Tidal exclusive release leaves on the table from other potential platforms and CD releases. So a year later after Tidal's big release here we are. I didn't want to. I really didn't. But after seeing Tidal rise in the app store this week I have downloaded the app. I am currently listening to Kanye West's "The Life Of Pablo" in HiFi. Here are my thoughts in no particular order.
When I left iTunes for Spotify it was because I could listen to any song I could think of on the spot. Instant streaming was a exponential increase in value over paying per song in iTunes and from what people have told me it was easier than downloading an album. I signed up for premium Spotify shortly thereafter to remove all commercials. I used both for a bit, as I had spent years building my iTunes library, but eventually I fully switched to Spotify. Years later I now have that same vested interested in my Spotify library of saved songs and playlists as I once had with iTunes.
Tidal's high quality HiFi music quality is not enough for me to make the switch though. Album exclusivity is not enough for me switch either. The album has been dying for awhile now and society is moving toward a constant release of singles every few months. Playlists are replacing the album. The value increase over my existing preference is simply not yet high enough. Lastly, "The Life Of Pablo" is an interesting album to say the least. I think I prefer Dr. West though over the new Ultra Light Beam of Yeezus. To end my mostly skeptical thoughts of Tidal on a positive note though, is that If there is one person who can make sense of Tidal perhaps it's the one currently Watching The Throne.