My afternoon with TIDAL: discovering a revolution in a few hours

The artists have gone wild.

Earlier this afternoon, I noticed many of the musicians I follow on Instagram had changed their avitars to blank turquoise circles. I kept seeing the same hashtag in Insta captions and tweets: #TIDALforALL. I watched a video Beyoncé put up advertising something I had never heard of before today: TIDAL.

The video showed several music superstars at some sort of mysterious event — Kanye West, Beyoncé, Madonna and Nicki Minaj caught my eye. I had to figure out what this was all about.

I went over to Tidal’s website. A countdown in large white numbers was in the center, dwindling down to 5 PM today, for an unknown reason. I watched another video on the site that described the service. It’s music-streaming at a new level — high definition videos, high quality music, “behind the music” editorial content, the ability to make playlists, listen to radio, and more. “Okay, pretty cool,” I thought.

I did a little more research. The Jay-Z owned company was scheduled for a relaunch under “new ownership” today. I read that the company promised to pay artists a whole heck of a lot more (sometimes double the amount) than other streaming services. Apparently enough for Taylor Swift to even hop on board.

I wanted to sign up and realized the two options were “TIDAL Premium” at $10 a month, and “TIDAL HiFi” at $20 a month. Then I saw the 30-day free trial buttons. I got half way through the registration process and had something else I needed to do. I immediately received an email from TIDAL, just warning me to stay tuned. Something about the enigmatic nature of all of this kept TIDAL in the back of my mind.

An hour or so later, as I was working on other homework, I got yet another email saying I had left the registration process without completing it, urging me to head back over to the site. I didn’t, but it kept me thinking: “What the heck is about to happen? Something is about to happen.”

Once I was done with my other homework, I figured I’d write a blog post on this thing. As soon as I opened up and wrote maybe two sentences, my phone dinged again. 5:10 PM: another email from TIDAL. I was actually excited. The subject: “The wait is over.” The email directed me back over to the main website, saying “Today marks the beginning of a new era. Visit TIDAL.com and experience the next step in the evolution of streaming.”

Off I went. I found a live stream(the same video is still available on the website) to a stage with a single woman introducing “the future of music.” Introducing TIDAL, she said the new company — born in October 2014 — is working to reestablish the value of music through the first ever global music platform owned by artists.

The stage was soon filled by an incredibly jaw-dropping line of musicians: the now owners of TIDAL. I just had to screenshot the fame that was on my computer screen at that moment:

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 6.24.55 PM

Alicia Keys then took the podium, talking about creating a new and better experience for both artists and listeners, inspired by the universal language that has gone without impacting no single man or woman on the planet.

After watching each artist come to center stage with applause to sign a declaration to take back music, I couldn’t get over the genius of what had just happened before my eyes.

Immediately after the live stream was over, another video started playing — showing the full version of what I had seen earlier on my Instagram feed: a series of meetings, interviews and conversations with the 16 owners/stars.

Much of these conversations revolved around what we discussed in class on Thursday. They spoke of a revolution to take back the music. The fact that, somehow, the artist has become the product instead of the creator. That technology companies have become a creator instead of a medium.

They talked about how much more they could offer — a service that is art in itself and provides content as valuable as the artists behind it — and how much the listener is missing without even knowing it.

There was a notion of excitement and of “Why hasn’t this happened sooner?” threaded throughout the conversations.

So will we pay for it?

Right now the options are still the same as before: either a $10 or $20 subscription. But what TIDAL is offering is on an entirely different level than any streaming service (or website in general) we’ve seen before. A new creature: a collaboration of some of the top artists in the industry creating the content and controlling the way it’s presented and distributed. I think they’ve got me hooked, at least.

Heck, Spotify already has 15 million paying subscribers, and they’re simply streaming the music ad-free.

Plus, the artists that provide their content just walked out the door and wrote their own damn rules.

If the launch of TIDAL alone is any indicator of what is to come on the service, things are about to get interesting.

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