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Tidal vs. Spotify: Which music streaming service is better?

Tidal offers high-end sound quality for a high-end price.

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Tidal made a big splash when it launched in 2015, but the hype has started to die down. But the streaming service’s high-definition sound quality means it’s still all the rage with audiophiles.

What is Tidal?

Tidal is a global music and entertainment platform. Its catalog includes 60 million tracks and 250,000 music videos.

What makes Tidal unique is that a number of artists own stake in the company, including Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, Calvin Harris, Chris Martin, Daft Punk, Damian Marley, deadmau5, Indochine, J. Cole, Jay-Z, Jack White, Jason Aldean, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Regine Chassagne, Rihanna, T.I., Usher and Win Butler. Sprint also owns a 33% stake in the company.

How does Tidal stack up against Spotify?

tidal-logo

Pros:

  • High quality audio.The platform promises lossless audio with high-fidelity sound quality and high-definition music videos with full offline capabilities. But only with the most expensive subscription.
  • Offline accessibility. Listen to the music you love, whenever you want.
  • Exclusives. Tidal releases exclusive music and videos from artists on the platform.
  • Artist control. Tidal is co-owned by a group of artists, with the aim of giving musicians control over their music.
  • Free 30-day trial. Like Spotify, Tidal also offers a free 30 day trial of its services.

Spotify_logo

Pros:

  • Free streaming. You can stream all artists and playlists offered for free with ads.
  • Less data usage. Spotify uses less data in its high-quality streaming mode than Tidal does in high-fidelity. But you can avoid this with Tidal by streaming in a lower quality and allowing your device to optimize audio quality.
  • Offline accessibility. Listen to the music you love, whenever you want but only if you have Spotify Premium.
  • Free 3-month trial. Spotify offers a longer free trial.

Cons:

  • No free streaming. Tidal is all about empowering and giving back to the artist, so there’s no free streaming.
  • Artist pay structure. One of the biggest backlashes is that Tidal only works for the big, rich artists and not the up-and-comers. Being a hierarchical pay scheme means the rich get a bigger cut than the smaller players.

Cons:

  • Lower sound quality. True audiophiles will prefer Tidals lossless audio.
  • Artist pay rate. Spotify pays artists less than other streaming services, and in 2019 it waged a legal battle for the right to pay artists less.

Which is the best music streaming service?

We compared Tidal and Spotify in four different categories:

  • Price: Spotify. While both providers offer an individual ad-free plan for $9.99, only Spotify offers a free tier. And Tidal requires you to pay $19.99 a month for top-tier audio.
  • Features: Tie. Both Spotify and Tidal offer a host of features like curated playlists, videos and offline listening
  • Sound quality: Tidal. Tidal’s HiFi subscription offers lossless high-fidelity audio that’s superior to Spotify’s sound.
  • Music library: Tidal. While Spotify boasts over 30 million tracks, Tidal claims to have 60 million tracks available.

Bottom line

If you’re willing to pay a subscription fee to access special / exclusive content, give your favorite big artist the pay they deserve for the music you receive and are picky about sound quality, Tidal just might be your thing.

If you’d prefer free streams with ads for slightly less quality, then Spotify away.

And if neither one of these sound like what you’re looking for, compare other music streaming services.

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