Tidal Turns One-Year-Old And Announces Big Numbers

Jay-Z’s music streaming service Tidal is officially one year old today and the company recently released statistics that say they have upwards of 3 million subscribers. According to TIME, the leader in the streaming industry at the moment is Spotify with 30 million subscribers, followed by Apple Music with 11 million. Tidal had a huge boost though; they started with 540,000 users, which carried over the previous service Aspiro.

The recent success of Tidal (they were only at a million subscribers in September) has to be attributed in some part to their exclusive release of Kanye West’s newest album The Life of Pablo. The album is still not available on iTunes and Kanye raised eyebrows when he pulled it so that he could tweak it a bit more. But the company gave their subscribers an updated version of the re-released album. The Life of Pablo was wildly popular and the Los Angeles Times reported that 500,000 people had downloaded pirated versions of the record. Lil’ Wayne, who is also a part-owner of Tidal, also released his record Free Weezy Album on the platform and Prince released HITnRUN Phase Two exclusively on the app. Other part-owners include Damian Marley and T.I., Daft Punk, Jack White, and a slew of big names.

Billboard states that Tidal began when Jay-Z purchased the Norwegian digital streaming service Aspiro for $56 million. The music magazine described Tidal as the “first-ever artist-owned streaming service, with the idea to pay a higher royalty rate and cater to artists in a way that its new competitors like Spotify had not.” When the service first launched, Jay-Z told the New York Times, “we are treating these people (artists) that really care about the music with the utmost respect.” Unfortunately, a “for artists by artists” model for a streaming service doesn’t always work so well since most of their demographic wants to listen to music more than they want to make it. The service costs $9.99 a month, which is less than Spotify. Unlike the streaming leader, Tidal does not offer a free aspect which is probably hurting their numbers. Many facets of the platform (like playlists) are available to Spotify users who are not subscribers.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Tidal has also dipped their feet into the live-streaming market; they’ve streamed concerts from J Cole and Beyoncé and owner Jay-Z’s Budweiser Made in America Festival. It’s clear that Tidal is quickly becoming an outlet that major artists trust. YouTube remains the leader in the live-streaming market with youtube.com/live.

But despite Tidal’s claim that they are championing artists, they’ve come under a bit of scrutiny. Earlier this month CNN reported on a lawsuit in which a member of the post-rock band American Dollar was suing the service. The news outlet wrote that “the suit says that Emanuele (a member of American Dollar) holds copyrights on 118 songs, and that Tidal owes him $150,000 per song, or $17.7 million.” So, though they are proposing that they’re doing everything the right way, Tidal may still have some skeletons in their closet.

In a New York Times article from a year ago, when Tidal first launched, Alicia Keys (another part-owner) stated that their goal was “to forever change the course of music history.” But whether they like it or not, there’s no real way to stop people from downloading music illegally. A Columbia University study that was released earlier this year found that “around 44% of the average collection of American 18 to 29-year-olds is copied or downloaded for free.”

Featured Image: [AP/Uncredited]

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