Mainstream press saw TIDAL’s March 30, 2015 launch a pompous tragedy in retrospect. Here we have it, a bunch of overpaid pop artists ranging from Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Daft Punk and Usher among others pledging their allegiance to Jay Z’s latest business acquisition. The grand entrances from all the artist investors or even that comically cheesy proclamation speech given by Alicia Keys felt like a gaudy PSA. Even former Chief Investment Officer Vania Schlogel said the live spectacle could have been done better shortly before she joined several others executives on the company’s corporate guillotine.

For many, TIDAL wasn’t offering anything different than Apple Music or Spotify. Slightly differentiating features mattered none to the masses. TIDAL’s non-mobile desktop functionality was totally browser based and buggy until the actual app was finalized. Unless someone was an extreme audiophile and had expensive enough preamps or headphones, the Hi-Fi lossless audio didn’t matter too much. The video component wasn’t enticing enough either despite having the most promise considering the event itself was a solid representation of a live streaming ability its competitors didn’t even offer. Pop artists demanding fair share of income from streaming didn’t matter either. “They’re already rich who cares,” one of my closest friends employed as call center representative asked. To him and many others, these seemed more like First World problems anyway. Was it really our problem to care that someone as big as Madonna or Daft Punk weren’t making through stream when their show paychecks are probably more than what most subscribers make in an entire year?

HipHopDX | Rap & Hip Hop News | Ad Placeholder
AD

AD LOADING...

AD

Now, Apple apparently wants a bite.

Fast forward to the present and the division between each of the three major music streaming services are becoming clearer. In TIDAL’s case, it’s become the most exclusive and technologically advanced streaming service that even competitors started to eventually borrow from. Growing to over three million subscribers isn’t anything to scoff at, either. Just yesterday, many thought Kanye was officially finished with The Life of Pablo before he added the Sampha guested “Saint Pablo” (alongside Apple Music) as midnight creeped in. (Think a wee-hour Destiny style update of his “living breathing changing creative expression.”) More frequently, TIDAL is becoming a master of finding its way into the news cycle in some form. And thus, making plenty wish they hadn’t canceled their subscription before that last Beyonce visual album dropped out the blue with a weekends worth of free HBO. TIDAL’s comeback story make all the sense in the world despite being the once young hated newcomer and these are the five reasons.

Spotify & Apple Music Started Noticing

Months after TIDAL’s launch, Spotify decided to shoot for video content for its service as well. More recently, All Def Digital announced that it had reached a deal with largest music streaming service. Meanwhile, iTunes’ relaunch as Apple Music created artists pages leaning more toward editorial content similar to TIDAL. It didn’t hurt that they used Drake as the spokesperson to forward that initiative. Apple also started to push their “Mastered For iTunes” as a direct competitor to TIDAL’s Hi-Fi Lossless audio codec. Though TIDAL may be the newest to the streaming wars, they’re already started influencing their competitors.

HipHopDX | Rap & Hip Hop News | Ad Placeholder
AD

AD LOADING...

AD

TIDAL Turned Live Streaming Exclusives Into Huge Events

On the live streaming side, getting the exclusive streaming rights to last year’s Hot 97 Summer Jam was one in several clever moves in making TIDAL live streams must see events. Jay Z’s B-Sides concert was even bigger, especially with that particular freestyle sending shots to both Spotify and Apple Music. Their biggest story belonged to Kanye West, who used the service to exclusively live stream his Yeezy Season event at Madison Square Garden while letting the world hear The Life of Pablo for the first time. It’s easy to understand why live streaming big events is their ace in the hole.

HipHopDX | Rap & Hip Hop News | Ad Placeholder
AD

AD LOADING...

AD

The Exclusives Albums

Jay Z deciding to make his debut Reasonable Doubt exclusive to TIDAL could have set the trend for newer exclusives. Three of the year’s biggest albums so far, The Life of Pablo, Anti and Lemonade all made its way to TIDAL first. These moves alone helped push the service from just 500,000 to damn near over three million in just over a year’s span. In regards to the frequently updated The Life Of Pablo an insider spoke to HipHopDX on the condition of anonymity had this to say about the project:

HipHopDX | Rap & Hip Hop News | Ad Placeholder
AD

AD LOADING...

AD

“It’s not like we knew exactly what was going to happen. There wasn’t a plan where it was determined that the album was going to come out on this date. No one knew later certain songs would get swapped out or whatever. It was up according to Kanye and whatever he wanted to do. It just wasn’t songs, he wanted to do whatever with his artist page, we would work with him on that as well. He just came up to us saying he wanted to swap out certain songs. So, we just worked with him on that. It [updates] wasn’t super long. It was over the course of a night probably. It wasn’t him coming directly to us, but his team saying we’d like to put this new version of whatever. It was going back and forth and figuring it out. It wasn’t a long time like a week or anything.”

Left-field releases like the Jhené Aiko and Big Sean Twenty88 also hit TIDAL first. It’s also easier to keep secrets as the upload process for albums can take just several hours from an artists’ team to the service’s backend. Compare that to Apple, Spotify, Amazon and even Google Music’s lengthy times that range from 24 hours to over a month. Let’s not fail to mention the ultimate come-up of nabbing Prince’s catalogue mad early before his untimely death. If you want to stream The Purple One, the only place to do it is TIDAL. Even Desiigner made an unprecedented move and made his debut mixtape available exclusively on the service.

Indie Artists Benefit Are Greater

Besides TIDAL Discovery and TIDAL Rising initiatives, it has to be nice that indie artists with music on TIDAL get paid better than competitors. However, getting special editorial treatment and video treatment has to make artists without major label backing feel special. Most artists who make TIDAL Rising end up hitting the stage at the Made In America Festival.

HipHopDX | Rap & Hip Hop News | Ad Placeholder
AD

AD LOADING...

AD

TIDAL Is Extremely Private

HipHopDX | Rap & Hip Hop News | Ad Placeholder
AD

AD LOADING...

AD

This feature was originally supposed to be more of a Q&A with a few key people at TIDAL, but they ultimately would not comment on record. Their publicist blocked questions complete with the Dikembe finger and they wouldn’t even expound on the Prince catalogue nor Lemonade. That’s when it hit me: TIDAL’s secret-keeping ability is A1. Despite the negative press and wonky launch, the company backed by Jay Z pushed the service as much as possible without dealing with the press too much. Therefore, they kept everyone inquiring and guessing until they decided to make their various moves. Which may or may not be with Apple.