Jay-Z dropped yet another bomb on the music business yesterday with his unveiling of the new streaming service Tidal. The announcement was fittingly flashy, with artists like Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, Madonna, Kanye West, Chris Martin and Calvin Harris taking the stage alongside the rapper.
With all the star power that accompanied the launch it's easy to forget that Tidal is actually a product that we'll all be able to use. Which begs the question: Should you actually sign up?
For starters you'll need to know the basics of the service. On its face, it's just another way to stream music, as opposed to Spotify or the new product Apple is expected to launch. There will be no free membership—users have a choice between paying $10 a month for digital audio-quality (a compressed format similar to what you get with Spotify) or $20 a month for CD-quality sound. Once you sign up you'll be able to listen as much as you want regardless of which membership you choose.
Now for the pros. As with basically anything that Jay Z touches, he's managed to get a veritable crap-ton (yes, that is the technical term) of famous artists on board. As Jay told The New York Times, all of the celebs who joined him for the launch event, plus presumably many more, will be considered owners or stakeholders in the company. As part of the agreement, we can expect them to provide Tidal with special content or exclusive availability for new music. Other ideas, like access to concert tickets or merchandise, have also been discussed. In other words, there's going to be a lot of insider info floating around Tidal.
Another positive aspect of the streaming service is more of an idea than anything else. It's no secret that musicians have been fed up with free streaming services for a while now, lamenting the lack of compensation they receive for creating songs. Joining Tidal will give you the peace of mind that you're a part of something that is artist-endorsed, instead of having that guilty feeling every time you open up Spotify or YouTube. It's all in your head, but there's something to be said for taking the high road.
And last but not least: Taylor Swift . According to an announcement on CNBC last week, Tay will be providing her catalog of music to Tidal users. After famously (and angrily) removing every last song from Spotify, the ability to listen to "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" on an endless loop is a big draw in and of itself.
Of course there is a big fat downside to joining Tidal. It costs money. And let's be honest, we've all been getting basically the same thing for free for years now. It all comes down to whether you want to give up $10 (or $20) a month for a bit of exclusivity and a lot of integrity.
With that we wish you good luck in your decision.