Tech Tip: Tidal

Imagine having the world’s largest record collection and having access to it wherever and whenever. It seems like magic but this is exactly what music subscription services like Spotify and now, TIDAL HiFi, promise.

As a fan of music from various genres, it makes a lot of sense for me to have quick and easy access to any and every song I want to listen to on a whim. From 90s hiphop on Friday nights to winding down with Frank Sinatra and a bottle of scotch, music plays a significant part in my routine.

What TIDAL promises is a fairer sharing of profits for artists and high fidelity (hence Hi-Fi) music quality. With artist-created playlists and high-definition music videos, it is looking to dethrone Spotify as the king of subscription music streaming.

I took TIDAL HiFi for a spin (new signups are offered a month-long trial) and while the idea of having CD quality music at my fingertips is appealing, it is pretty much indiscernible unless you are an audiophile and own the most amazing sound system. I wouldn’t speak for everyone else but I listen to a lot of music on my iPhone, syncing lossless music to my phone not only takes a long time and also takes up a lot of precious space with the larger file sizes that come from having better quality music.

While TIDAL markets itself as a streaming service that will treat artists fairly and that musicians can make a living from their work. It seems redundant when most of the artists on TIDAL are millionaires in their own rights instead of the struggling independent musicians we are led to believe. Ben Gibbard, lead singer of alternative rock band Death Cab for Cutie, puts it succinctly.

“There was a wonderful opportunity squandered to highlight what this service would mean for artists who are struggling and to make a plea to people’s hearts and pocketbooks to pay a little more for this service that was going to pay these artists a more reasonable streaming rate,and they didn’t do it.”

The monthly subscription of S$19.99 for their Hi-Fi plan is twice of that of Spotify, their closest and biggest competitor. While there is also a standard quality plan for S$9.99, there just isn’t enough reasons for me to switch. The only difference between TIDAL’s standard quality plan and Spotify is that TIDAL offers streaming of music videos (which you can already do on YouTube, for free).

My verdict is that unless you are an audiophile with a state of the art sound system, there is truly no reason for you to pay twice the amount. After all, who needs to hear rap in lossless quality?