Against the Stream

Jay-Z’s music platform Tidal aims to change the way people listen to and appreciate music and is the best way to support artists.


On April 23, 2003, the music industry was transformed. The creation of iTunes enabled people to easily access songs instead of purchasing CDs, launching the streaming revolution. Not long afterwards, various streaming services emerged, including Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud and Tidal. This made things much easier for listeners, but it complicated the way artists made money from their music. Students are inclined to select their music platform based on cost and popularity without considering how their choices affect the artists they listen to. When artists are not paid enough for their music, they are more likely to pull out of streaming services, just as Taylor Swift did with Spotify. One of the best ways for students to support their favorite artist is by subscribing to Tidal.

Over the past year, the streaming service soared in popularity. After Kanye West’s most recent album, “The Life of Pablo,” was released exclusively on the the app, Tidal saw a dramatic increase in subscribers and attention. Soon afterwards, Beyonce’s album “Lemonade” dropped exclusively on Tidal, keeping the new users interested. This summer was full of new music, including Coloring Book by Chance the Rapper, Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight by Travis Scott and Blonde by Frank Ocean; the attention shifted toward Apple Music, leaving Tidal in the dust.

Jay-Z bought Tidal from a Scandinavian company in 2009 for $56.2 million. Since then, the company has picked up co-owners, including Arcade Fire, Beyoncé and Calvin Harris. They state that Tidal “is not about creating a new service, it’s about creating a better one … which makes the experience better for both the fans and the artists.” The artists publishing their music on Tidal feel that not receiving compensation is disrespectful to them and causes their music to lose value. On average, Tidal pays artists four times as much at $.028 per listen, whereas Spotify and Apple Music pay their artists approximately $.007 per listen.

Tidal also supports their artists by offering three additional features within the platform. Tidal X was created for the artists to connect with their fans, Tidal Rising allows musicians to expand their fan base, and Tidal Discover is used by aspiring artists with small fan bases, providing the opportunity for their music to be spread around the world. In addition to Tidal’s positive goals to help benefit the artists with their “streaming revolution,” Jay-Z and Beyonce are using Tidal’s influence to benefit The Robin Hood Foundation, a New-York based organization dedicated to fighting poverty. The two are teaming up on October 15 for a charity concert to raise money for the education of New York City’s youth. So, if you only downloaded Tidal to stream The Life of Pablo or Lemonade, it may be time to give it another shot.