TIDAL’s streaming music service has been in the news lately. Some are not aware that the Norway based service launched in 2010. Most of us in the US were left feeling awkward by the star-studded press conference led by Jay-Z.

To date, I have not found a compelling reason to pay for a music streaming service. Somehow I have strung together a nice run of winning iTunes gift cards at hackathons and receiving some as gifts. With TIDAL in the news, I figured this would prove a great time to kick the tires and provide my initial thoughts after a few weeks.


High Fidelity vs. Normal Streaming

Can you tell the difference? Yes
Do you care? Probably not
Why would someone spend 2x for high fidelity? If you are an audiophile and care about the details in music that 99% of people just ignore. In the grand scheme of things, the extra $10 a month is a lot cheaper than the $500+ earbuds assembled by Buddhist Monks that you recently purchased. Just my opinion.

Desktop Application/Web Interface

Where is the desktop application?!? Currently it is under maintenance according to the FAQ section. I spend a lot of time at my computer between writing code, answer emails and researching solutions to problems  and a desktop application that leverages the keyboard controls of the Mac or had global hot keys would be greatly appreciated. There are many times when I am at my desk and someone will come over to ask me a question. Having to hunt around for the tab that TIDAL is on and pause the song is getting old.
I wish there was a History View so that I did not have to add songs to a playlist. I have never created a playlist, I do not know why but I just don’t. Having a history view would allow me to start my day the same way – look at a moment of time and reflect on what mood I was in.
Although, I refuse to make a playlist TIDAL has me covered with lots of curated content.
  • You can listen by Genre (Pop, Rock, RnB, Alternative, etc), which is great for me.
  • TIDAL also has curated playlists based on your mood or state. So if you are relaxed, ready to party, focused or having dinner , there is a playlist for you.
  • They also do a good job of allowing trending music (TIDAL Rising) to rise to the top and showcasing what’s new.

 Mobile iOS & Android

Both Apps are solid and provide the same functionality that is available on the web. As a mobile developer I am pleased with the quality and usability of the application. One of the handy features is that there is an offline mode. This is important if you are going to offer high fidelity and reduce cellular bandwidth when not on wifi.
TIDAL also supports integration with a number of additional products, just to name a few:
  • Sonos
  • Bluesound
  • Linn
One thing that I think would be cool is to have a party or DJ mode where non-subscribers could login and queue up tracks the subscriber is playing.

Videos & Exclusive Content

Other than the High Fidelity differentiator, exclusive content is the other appeal that the star studded new investors in TIDAL will offer. TIDAL only (or at least first) videos, albums and songs are another feature that TIDAL is using to win market share in the music streaming business. Jay-Z is actually live streaming a concert on May 13th for TIDAL subscribers.
Having access to a number of videos is an added plus, although I rarely use this feature. I do find myself watching a video or two that looks interesting on the main page.
All in all my time with TIDAL has been a pleasant experience. The search functionality could be a bit more friendlier. Currently, you need to search with the exact spelling of the artist, album or track. Also, when visiting the website it is annoying to have to click on the sign in button every time.

The Verdict

I am going to keep my subscription active for the low fidelity service for the time being.