TIDAL: Quality Streaming at the Beat of Its Own Drum
When music does the talking, people tend to listen. The ongoing music market is undoubtedly oversaturated with music service providers and streamers. To even attempt to break the industry’s ways, one has to always be steps ahead of the competition and deliver something the music world has not yet seen.
Instead of being a one-man brand, TIDAL is the fruit of dedicated team effort. Brought by Norweigan public company Aspiro, TIDAL is the first-ever global streaming service worldwide. It offers high-fidelity sounds, customized playlists, and a richness of original music content.
Tunes aside, TIDAL has also tested the waters of podcasts, video streaming, radio stations, and live shows, to ultimately become a sublime streamer owned not by corporations - but actual artists! With over 70 million featured songs and sprawled over 61 countries globally, here’s how the artistic TINDAL team took it upon itself to revolutionize streaming - and turned it into music for everyone’s ears!
The Company’s Beginnings
TIDAL originated in Oslo, Norway, in 2014. At its beginnings, the platform was initially envisioned as a Norway-only streamer, with ambitions to expand across the European market. Its platform was originally created based on the subscription model and featured all sorts of streamed content: music, videos, podcasts, and interviews. TIDAL was created with the idea of reliability and proficiency in mind.
It represents an endless source of content for fans and original content lovers. Users can rely on TIDAL to listen to original sounds, purchase its services, subscribe and interact on community channels, and stream or download high-quality content.
The company behind TIDAL’s creative curtain was Aspiro, a renowned provider based in Norway, and founded in 1998. A giant in the fields of technology and creative design, Aspiro’s team had been contemplating the idea of creating TIDAL for years before it made the market. The basic idea of founding TIDAL came from the country itself.
In the 90s and 00s, Norway was the hit market for quirky pop, original sounds, and authentic artistry. Aspiro’s board of directors, therefore, believed that by creating TIDAL, they will manage to further enhance the quality of the Norwegian pop culture and dance scene. Another key focus the team paid special attention to was to create a platform that will enable prominent artists to better connect to their fans.
In the beginning, the platform appealed to Norway-based artists and fans. Its repertoire of content featured a plethora of genres, including pop, rock, hip-hop, dance, techno, electronica, trance, alternative, and house. As TIDAL’s popularity grew, its services caught the eyes of other European countries like Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland.
The First Artist-Owned Music Platform
Aspiro officially launched TIDAL in October of 2014, in Norway. Once it gained momentum, which happened almost instantaneously, TIDAl expanded to other markets. Such included Scandivanian countries, and soon after, the UK, Germany, Poland, Canada, and ultimately, the US market. For a few years there, TIDAl operated as per usual and offered its quality services across many valuable industries. However, the company was hoping to spread its wings even broader, as well as aim for higher market recognition.
The most impactful change for TIDAL came after the acquisition of Aspiro. Namely, in 2015, Aspiro was acquired by none other than Project Panther Bidco - a company directly owned by Roc Nation and Laurence Brown Jr. and indirectly managed and owned by famous rapper and mogul Jay Z. The acquisition was worth a whopping $56.2 million and promised TIDAL a brighter and more profitable future.
When Jay Z and company acquired TIDAL, they had the vision to redesign the platform to make it worldwide known. They wanted each fan to find the kind of content they were looking for, whilst simultaneously empowering the newest and trendiest music artists. Speaking in public before revamping the platform, Jay Z noted he was unsatisfied with the way TIDAL ran so far. To change this, he would ideally aim to partner up with other similar platforms and providers to enrich TIDAL’s overall vision.
The official relaunching date of TIDAL was scheduled for March 30, in New York. During the press, Jay Z, Beyonce, Daft Punk, Nicky Minaj, Rihanna, Madonna, Kanye West, Jack White, Arcade Fire, Alicia Keys, Chris Martin, Usher, Calvin Harris, Jason Aldean, J.Cole and deadmau5 - were declared to be the owners of TIDAL, making it the first artist-owned company in the world!
Challenges, Funding, and Current State
When TIDAL first broke the streaming scene, it felt too good to be true for users.
Whilst the company relied on a royalty model and was owned exclusively by artists, the approach was not as scalable as its team had hoped. Compared to other giants, like Spotify, TIDAL was not as widespread worldwide and this geographical limitation jeopardized its profits. To make a suitable comeback, TIDAL decided to penetrate more markets than the European one and aimed to take its business to the US.
Another major issue that occurred at the company was its lack of originally obtained content. As many users could already download all streamed content for free, TIDAL had to rethink its subscription policies and offer users a more affordable way to access exclusive content. Finally, in 2017, the company was accused of falsely announcing their users rounded at 3 million, when in fact, TIDAL only had 350,000 subscribers. However, despite the drama, TIDAL denied any wrongdoing.
Before things could get better, they needed to get worse one last time. Namely, TIDAL faced major backlash when fans accused that there was no difference between the ordinary audio and the high-quality audio TIDAL supposedly offered. But, Jay Z responded to the claims smartly and buried all criticism by holding a massive concert with thousands of visitors and fans. He even compared his company with Nike and Apple and noted that TIDAL was as great of a leader in its field as the two sports brands.
TIDAL’s expansion was a long time coming since its acquisition. With it, the company expanded to Ireland, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, and Belgium, and geared up to break the US market as well. As for its funding, TIDAL has only witnessed one funding round, conducted in 2017 through a corporate round led by Sprint.
TIDAL’s future plans revolved around higher expansion and boosting its service.
The company managed to accomplish the former and expand its services to a total of 61 countries around the globe. As for a higher quality of service, the platform offers exclusive artist interviews for fans to listen to, a customized library of approximately 70 million songs, and more than 250,000 high-quality videos.
Also, to ensure the company’s superb functioning, several designated programs were invented. Such include TIDAL X, TIDAL Rising, Master Quality Authenticated technology, all allowing the fans to have a greater choice of content and a fabulous experience. In 2021, TIDAL was bought by Square Inc, a digital payment and financial service company, for $297 million. Given the dissatisfaction from its users, especially in terms of quality and costliness, this move was already anticipated.
So, where does TIDAL go from here? Whilst we cannot foresee its future, we can remain confident that TIDAL is the kind of platform designed to last and withhold its leading spot on the market. Why? It’s simple - when the streaming industry begged for creative unity, it was TIDAL that stepped up to the plate to deliver a solution that combines the best of all worlds: the fans, the content, and the artists!