Tidal music streaming review: Pricing plans and features
This Beyonce-approved platform offers a listening experience you won't find anywhere else.
Tidal is one of the latest services to go up against the likes of Spotify and Apple Music. And it’s made for people looking for the highest-quality music streaming experience. It launched in March 2015 with 16 musical artists at the helm, including Kanye West and Jay-Z.
Free trial length
Individual plan price
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|Family plan offered||
|Family plan device limit||Unlimited|
|Family plan price||$14.99|
Pros and cons
- High-Quality streaming. Tidal offers some of the highest quality music streaming available, with lossless audio formats.
- Exclusive content. If you’re a fan of extras like exclusive interviews, first-look music videos and more, Tidal offers both audio and video content.
- Artist Owned. Thanks to its artist-centric business model, Tidal offers one of the most direct ways to support creators in the music industry compared to other streaming services.
- Higher cost. If you’re not a music purist, it may not be worth the steeper price tag to listen to higher-quality audio.
What features does Tidal offer?
Tidal’s structure allows it to distinguish itself from other streaming services.
The current roster of artists with a controlling stake in Tidal includes:
- Daft Punk
- Jason Aldean
- Alicia Keys
- Arcade Fire
- Nicki Minaj
- Jack White
- Kanye West
- J. Cole
- Lil Wayne
- Calvin Harris
- Damian Marley
- Chris Martin
Many of Tidal’s co-owners, and even a few third parties, have released songs, music videos and other content exclusively on the service. While some of this content eventually makes its way to other services, others, like much of Jay-Z’s music, is exclusive to Tidal indefinitely. Examples of Tidal-exclusive content include Jay-Z’s 4:44 album, Daft Punk’s Electroma sci-fi film and Bon Jovi’s “Spiritual Warfare” music video.
Along with debut content, Tidal also features playlists curated by the likes of Coldplay, Arcade Fire and other artists both directly and indirectly involved with the service. There are also a variety of podcasts available only to Tidal subscribers, such as Elliott Wilson’s Rap Radar and Angie Martinez’s In Real Life.
Another key difference between Tidal and competing services is its emphasis on audio quality. Most streaming services use technology that sacrifices audio quality to reduce a song’s file size. But Tidal offers FLAC and MQA lossless formats through their Hi-Fi subscription tier to preserve the audio quality of their source material without compromise.
FLAC offers CD-quality audio, while MQA promises to match the quality of a song as it was recorded in the studio. Tidal is the only service in the world to offer MQA audio.
While higher-quality music is a big draw for many audiophiles, it comes at a price: Individual song files can be up to six times as large as they would be in MP3 format. When streaming music, this means you’ll need a faster Internet connection and a larger data cap to accommodate high quality audio.
This isn’t so bad when streaming from a computer with a high-speed home broadband connection. But it’s a different situation when streaming on a mobile device. Network congestion and limited data caps can make streaming high-quality audio difficult on the go, which is why Tidal supports downloading tracks for playing offline. That way, you can stock up on songs while you’re on your home Wi-Fi connection and avoid the risk of exceeding your data cap while you’re out and about.
Tidal’s catalog features more than just high-quality audio. From high-definition music videos and complete concert streams to comprehensive documentaries and exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, video content plays a big role in Tidal’s push to be more than another me-too music-streaming service.
News, previews and exclusive interviews
Complementing Tidal’s video library is a regular feed of editorial content covering the latest happenings in the music industry. Along with news, previews and new-release announcements, the feed spotlights up-and-coming talent and features interviews with artists from across all genres.
The last major element that separates Tidal from other streaming services is Tidal X, an initiative that focuses on the live, performative side of music.
Tidal X lets Tidal users live stream exclusive concerts and events, with past examples including one of Rihanna’s runway shows in Paris and the 10th anniversary concert for the Rick Ross album Port of Miami.
Tidal members are also able to purchase tickets to exclusive events like these as well as a variety of meet-and-greets and listening parties, all of which the general public cannot attend. Lucky Tidal subscribers can also win free tickets to these and other events.
What music is available on Tidal?
Tidal is currently home to one of the largest licensed music libraries in the streaming market. The service boasts more than 57 million songs and over 175,000 high-definition music videos. Along with plenty of music from the co-owning artists, there are songs from acts as diverse as Glen Campbell, Nick Jonas and Stone Sour.
What devices are compatible with Tidal?
Tidal supports most modern phones, tablets and computers through both dedicated apps and a web player built into its website.
PC and Mac
The web player will function on any of the following browsers: Google Chrome 39 or higher, Internet Explorer 8 or higher, Mozilla Firefox 33.1 or higher, or Safari 6 or higher. FLAC-quality streaming is only available through the web player when using Google Chrome.
iOS and Android
The IOS app is compatible with iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches running iOS 9.0 or later, while the Android app will work on smartphones and tablets running Android 4.4 or later.
Smart home devices
Wi-Fi-enabled home devices from Sonos, Lode Audio, Roku, Amazon Alexa and echo. You can find the full list of compatible devices on Tidal’s website.
How much does Tidal cost?
Unlike many other music-streaming services, Tidal does not offer free or ad-supported subscription options. Instead, there are just two different tiers of paid service: Tidal Premium and Tidal Hi-Fi.
At $10 a month, Tidal Premium offers the entire Tidal library at standard, compressed audio quality. It also provides access to the high-definition music videos and editorial content.
Clocking in at $20 a month, Tidal Hi-Fi gives you access to both FLAC and MQA audio quality for all 48.5 million songs in Tidal’s catalog along with HD music videos and editorial content.
Both Tidal Premium and Tidal Hi-Fi support family plans that allow up to five family members to enjoy the full Tidal experience at a cheaper per-person price.
A family subscription to Tidal Premium costs $14.99 a month, while a family subscription to Tidal Hi-Fi runs a cool $29.99 a month.
Student and military discounts
Tidal offers discounts for currently enrolled students and military members on both their Premium and Hi-Fi tiers.
For the Premium tier, the student price is $4.99 a month and the military price is $5.99 a month.
For the Hi-Fi tier, the student price is $9.99 a month and the military price is $11.99 a month.
Is Tidal Hi-Fi worth it?
For audiophiles who love exclusive content and premium streaming quality for master recordings, Tidal Hi-Fi can be worth it can be worth the $20 price tag. Users that listen casually, and are looking for basic stations and popular artist would be content with the $10 premium tier.
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With access to exclusive content from popular recording artists and the ability to stream music in the highest-quality audio formats, Tidal offers several features that you won’t find on other music streaming services, even if its library isn’t as large as its competitors.
It compensates for this with a wide array of video-based content and the ability to stream concerts, so there’s something to be found for both hardcore music purists and people looking to expand their playlists with new artists. Just be sure to keep an eye on your data use when streaming high-quality content off Wi-Fi.
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