Streaming with Jay-Z’s Tidal: A Stream of Consciousness Review

Streaming with Jay-Z’s Tidal: A Stream of Consciousness Review

Shane BarnhillTuesday,31 March 2015

So you’re interested in learning more about Tidal, the new HiFi music streaming service owned by Jay-Z and other celebrity music artists? Well, I already wrote about Tidal–what it is, and why Tidal’s goals worth supporting–and you should go read that post. It’s much better than this one, which already kind of sucks (clearly). So no, I won’t re-hash what Tidal is here (seriously, go read the other article); instead, I’ll provide a hands-on look at what it’s like to actually acquire and use Tidal. Because forget about artists getting paid their due if Tidal is a crappy product, right?

So, without further ado, let’s start streaming some music with Tidal!

Okay, I’m at now. 

Hey, cool website guys! Mobile friendly! Huh, no ad-supported free tier for me to test out for a while? That seems like a bad decision. But whatevs – thanks for making it easy for me to pick the $9.99 Premium option instead of the ridiculously-priced $19.99 High Fidelity version, especially since a recent blind test shows that people can’t tell the difference between standard and high definition music!

Oh cool – sign up by Facebook and Twitter! I love Facebook and Twitter. 

Well, scratch that. I love Twitter. Facebook is a pain in the ass, but it’s useful as an identify provider for services that, let’s face it, I’m probably just going to cancel in a month. You can have my Facebook info and try to harrass me there all you want. I’m not on Facebook very much. I just dip in, post a photo of my kids for their relatives, and jump back out. And here’s my credit card info. You’ll probably never actually get to charge it.

Thanks, yeah, I’d like to get started. 

I mean, I’ve given you my Facebook profile information and credit card number already. So yeah, I’ll tap the button.


Ah, that’s right. Drop me into the App Store. Gotta download this app first. 

Sure, that’s how this works, but this is starting to feel painful. Oh and hey, why did I pay you directly instead of Apple? That was a bad move on my part. Random thought: what is the Adrenaline Mob? Those guys look scary. Wait. Is this a game or a music app that I’m downloading?

So I download the app, only to find out the obvious.  

Yes, I am ready, even though your splash pages didn’t provide much value or help prepare me to use your app. But anyway, I’m ready to ‘Start Listening’ after all of these screens.

Oh, that’s right. You need my BookFace credentials. 

Of course, you want to remember that I only signed up for the $9.99/month plan and a free 30 day trial. I wouldn’t want you to get confused and charge me twenty bucks for that HiFi horseshit.


I’m in! I’ll start out by swiping through the content in the top row.

Oh hey, Arcade Fire! I love Arcade Fire. Tap. Wait, huh? That’s not music, that’s an article. Huh. I guess this interface is going to take some time to learn. But props for mixing in some interesting content.

I’ll listen to the brand new Sufjan Stevens album instead.

Whoa Nellie. That’s some depressing shit. Totally not your fault, Tidal, even though you did recommend it at the top. But I should’ve known what I was getting into with Sufjan.

Maybe some pop alternative like Vampire Weekend will perk me up. I’m especially fond of their first album.

Wait. You don’t have that album. I’m getting a little concerned already.

But wait, I know what you have that Spotify doesn’t!

Taylor Swift! I’m a secret fan of her music, especially ‘1989’ – but oh, that album isn’t available.

I’ll look for some good Indie music, then. That’s really more of my jam anyway.

No Indie? I’m not really sure what to do at this point. Maybe there’s a playlist that would suffice?

Yeah, that’s it! Let’s try a playlist. ‘Love’ sounds intriguing.

A little starved for content, are you? Valentine’s Day was 6.5 weeks ago, yet V-Day playlists are showing up at the top of this section. And 1960s Heartbreak music? Yuck, you don’t know my tastes at all.

Oh, that’s just it! You don’t know my tastes yet. Maybe I just need to edit my profile to help you with curation.

Huh? I gave you my Facebook profile information, and you didn’t even bother to import my avatar or name? I don’t really have a good feeling about this app so far, but maybe I just need to adjust my Settings.

Okay, here we are – Settings. What the actual fuck?

So, let me get this straight. I give you my Facebook profile info and clearly sign up for a $9.99 standard definition plan, and you secretly plot to hit me with a $19.99 high definition monthly fee?

Unsubscribe. Delete. Jay-Z, I love the idea of artists getting a bigger cut of music royalties, and for that reason, I hope Tidal succeeds. But for now, this feels like a half-baked (and frankly, somewhat scammy) app. You won’t be winning over many Spotify subscribers with this service, at least as it stands.

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Image Credit: Flickr

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