Tidal (stylized as TIDAL) is a subscription-based music, podcast and video streaming service that combines lossless audio and high-definition music videos with exclusive content and special features on music. Tidal was launched in 2014 by Norwegian public company Aspiro.
The service has over 60 million tracks and 240,000 music videos. Tidal claims to pay the highest percentage of royalties to music artists and songwriters within the music streaming market, while offering two levels of digital music streaming service: Tidal Premium (lossy quality) and Tidal HiFi (lossless CD quality – FLAC-based 16-Bit/44.1 kHz – and MQA). It has distribution agreements with all three major labels and many indies.
In March 2015, Aspiro was acquired by Jay-Z‘s Project Panther Bidco Ltd., which relaunched the service with a mass-marketing campaign. Some music artists changed their social media profile’s design to blue and posted the phrase “#TIDALforAll” on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. A press conference on March 30, 2015, included Jay-Z and 15 other musicians who were co-owners and stakeholders in Tidal. The service was promoted as being the first artist-owned streaming service.
While some observers praised the impressive high fidelity, lossless audio quality, and higher subscription fees which would result in higher royalties to the artists and songwriters, others felt the high subscription fees and exclusive Tidal content from the artists involved could lead to more music piracy. Tidal has claimed to have over 3 million subscribers, although the veracity of those claims as well as their reported streaming numbers have been questioned. Tidal currently operates in 53 countries. On January 23, 2017, Sprint Corporation bought 33% of Tidal for a reported $200 million
Branching off from WiMP, which was launched in Norway in 2010 and later available in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and Poland, Aspiro first launched the Tidal brand in the UK, the US, and Canada on October 28, 2014. The launch was supported by Sonos and 15 other home audio manufacturers as integrations partners. In January 2015, Tidal launched in five more European countries: Ireland, Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. It is currently available in 52 countries worldwide.
Aspiro was purchased by Project Panther Bidco Ltd. (owned by Jay-Z) for SEK 466 million (USD $56.2 million) in January 2015. Before acquiring Aspiro, Jay-Z stated in an interview with Billboard that he was willing to partner with other streaming services to carry out his vision. “We talked to every single service and we explored all the options,” stated Jay-Z, “But at the end of the day, we figured if we’re going to shape this thing the way we see it, then we need to have independence. And that became a better proposition for us, not an easier one, mind you,” he concluded.
On April 16, 2015 it came to public attention that Tidal was closing its original Aspiro offices in Stockholm, terminating the employment for all Swedish employees and the current CEO Andy Chen. The company refused to comment on closing the offices, but confirmed that Andy Chen had been replaced as CEO by Peter Tonstad. In September 2015, Tidal began selling digital downloads and CDs. In December 2015, Tidal appointed Jeff Toig as CEO of the company. Jeff Toig then left the company in March 2017. Richard Sanders was announced as CEO in August 2017.
In January 2017, the company announced the partnership with UK-company Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) to deliver master-quality recordings—authenticated and unbroken versions (typically 96 kHz / 24-bit) with the highest-possible resolution to its HiFi subscribers. Tidal is the only streaming company to offer this MQA service. MQA is a “lossy” format.
On January 23, 2017, US mobile carrier Sprint announced that they were buying a 33 percent stake in Tidal, reporting Sprint will offer exclusive content to Sprint customers.
In 2017, Tidal announced a series of podcasts to launch the same year. American rappers Fat Joe and Joey Bada$$ each host “Coca Vision” and “47 Minutes” respectively.