Tidal vs Spotify: Jay Z's Music Streaming Service Aims To Support Artists First, But Can It Win The Market?

By Matthew Buzzi , Updated Mar 31, 2015 01:10 PM EDT

A platoon of famous musicians and artists took the stage this week to announce their support for Tidal, a music streaming service recently acquired by Jay Z for $56 million. The artists want to offer high quality streaming options that gives the power--and better revenues--back to the content creators.

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This, obviously, will conflict with a service like Spotify. The popular program has a huge userbase, but artists have criticized the tiny percentage of the profits they receive from free ad-supported streaming. Tidal has no free tier, and at first only offered a high-quality $19.99 per month stream--they've now added a more affordable $9.99 option.

Jay Z and Beyonce took the stage yesterday for a press conference with such names as Daft Punk, Jack White, Kanye West, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Deadmau5, Alicia Keys, Calvin Harris, Usher, Arcade Fire, and Coldplay. These are certainly big names in the industry, and Jay Z is welcoming on any artists (with offers of equity for financial support) who will join. You can watch a video with these artists about starting Tidal below.

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Tidal has an uphill battle to fight--The Verge puts their current subscriber total at just 17,000, while Spotify has 60 million users (with 15 million paying for Premium). Wanting more for artists is a fair goal given the lack of profitability with Spotify's method, but there remains plenty of convincing to do in regard to the market. The service does better serve the artists, but what is the difference to consumers who have been enjoying Spotify? Tidal has to give them a reason to switch, something in their interests--that's a tough sell without a free version. Apple and Beats are also looking to take a share of the pie, with a planned streaming service that will also forgo a free tier.

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