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By The Numbers: Tidal does more for music culture than Apple Music and Spotify combined


Tidal Launch in USA: 30/03/2015
Culturally Advantageous Actions: 25
Actions per month: 0.81


  • In August, Tidal live-streamed Lil Wayne's "Lil WeezyAnaFest", a concert commemorating Hurricane Katrina on the 10th anniversary of the tragic event. It turned into a benefit concert. Apple Music allegedly threatened Tidal with a lawsuit if any of Drake's music was featured on the stream. 
  • In October, Tidal hosted its first ever "Tidal X" charity event. The event was designed to celebrate the milestone of 1 million subscribers (in just 4 months), as well as raise money for nonprofit organisations, which turned out to be the New World Foundation, and Sankofa.orgboth of which deal with civil rights and social justice. The concert raised a staggering $1.5 million, mostly coming from ticket sales. The New York Times reported that Tidal also matched "the face value of tickets sold through an official pre-sale, where prices ranged from $74 to $244. That resulted in another $230,000". As AintNoJigga reported, performances from Jay, French Montana, Beyonce, T.I., Damian Marley, Meek Mill, Pusha T, Vic Mensa, Rick Ross, Nick Jonas, Nicki Minaj, Lil' Wayne, Fabolous and a host of others added serious cachet to the event. News outlets still tried to put a negative spin on it. GQ managed to forget entirely to mention it was a charity event. The Verge mentioned it once, in a direct quote lifted from the Tidal press release. Amazingly, it was Complex who delivered the most objective and unbiased review.
  • Tidal Rising launches, in association with Tidal Discovery. From the Rolling Stone article: "Through a partnership with digital distributors Phonofile and Record Union, Discovery will also allow musicians to release their music directly through Tidal à la Bandcamp or Soundcloud. Musicians will be able to select their preferred royalty structure". Tidal Rising helps promote artists who have already established a solid following, but don't have the finances or ability to bankroll further promotion. ChicagoMag contacted an indie artist to discover whether this system worked, and Lili K said it was more helpful to her career than Spotify or Itunes. 
  • Tidal and Jay-Z partnered with Lil Wayne to release the Free Weezy Album, to circumnavigate Wayne's label troubles with Cash Money boss Birdman. It was reported that Birdman then tried to sue Tidal for $50 million, although Tidal denied this. Tidal hosted the album despite the threat of legal action from Cash Money Records.
  • Amidst a maelstrom of bad press, Jack White and Jay-Z personally call Tidal subscribers to thank them for their support
  • In May of 2015, Tidal linked up with Prince to stream (for free, for everyone, not just Tidal subscribers) his "Rally 4 Peace" concert, a benefit concert in Baltimore to raise money for the Baltimore Justice Fund. Tidal also hosted a donation service during the live stream, so that any viewer could quickly and easily contribute. Tidal matched every dollar donated, and also publicly supported the Baltimore Justice Fund.
  • Tidal B-Sides Concert: Jay performed two exclusive shows in May 2015 which was free to Tidal subscribers who were selected via a playlist competition. Jay performed numerous tracks he rarely ever plays live, and even coaxed Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek and Freeway to all perform together on stage for the first time in nearly a decade. 
  • Tidal partners with Ticketmaster to provide exclusive pre-sale events and experiences for subscribers. 
  • Summer Jam 2015 is live-streamed via Tidal
  • Tidal partners with major independent artist distribution organisations TuneCore, Distrokid, Phonofile and Record Union to make it even easier for independent artists to upload their music to the platform. 
  • Usher's "Break The Chains" initiative. 
  • Live stream of Jay's Made in America festival, available to everyone, not just subscribers. Tidal Rising artists performed on the "Tidal" stage. 

  • Tidal X: Brooklyn. A benefit concert to deliver funds to the Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Artists: Fat Joe, Remy Ma, Daddy Yankee, Yo Gotti, A$AP Ferg, Vic Mensa, Fifth Harmony, Joey Bada$$, Willow Smith, Belly, Iggy Azalea.
  • Tidal donates 200,000 pounds of relief supplies to Peurto Rico.
  • Tidal X: Vic Mensa Hurricane Relief Benefit, Los Angeles and New York. Tidal facilitated donations via the live-stream.
  • 1Million Project, collaboration with Sprint "that will connect 1 million low-income US high school students who don't have internet access at home to help level the playing field and eliminate the 'homework gap'". 
  • Made In America festival, free live stream (not just for Tidal subscribers)
This list isn't exhaustive, but it's close. Compare that to the major rivals.


Established (USA): 1st July, 2011
Culturally Advantageous Actions: 19
Actions per month: 0.25



  • Guilty-Pledgers app. "...requires party hosts to sign in using Facebook, then open up a party playlist. Friends can then pledge a minimum of £2 to any of a range of charities – more than 13,000 available on the Just Giving website – in return for adding tracks of their choice to the playlist. It’s the first fundraising app to be launched on Spotify." I didn't find any information about how much money was raised or what happened to the initiative. 
  • Merchandise section allows artists to sell their merch directly to the consumer via their profile page. 
  • Spotify travels to Philippines to distribute hearing aids "and free music" to communities who are unable to afford them. 
  • Spotify produces a number of hearing loss public service announcements to bring awareness to the damage that loud music can do to a persons ability to hear in the future. 
  • Spotify partners with StubHub to better inform listeners about events and concerts in their area. This promotes bands by delivering information directly to consumers based on location
Apple Music

Established in the USA in June 2015
Culturally Advantageous Actions: 6
Actions per month: 0.21

  • Apple Music removes white supremacist and neo-Nazi music from the service, and "bans white power tracks". "We must not witness or permit such hate and bigotry in our country, and we must be unequivocal about it. This is not about the left or the right, conservative or liberal. It is about human decency and morality"
  • Partnership with Verizon to offer discounts on Apple Music if users are willing to divulge more personal tracking data

Tidal wins by an almost unbelievable margin

Spotify and Apple Music combined match up to Tidal's contribution to the culture, but if you look at these contributions, I've been very generous to both Spotify and Apple Music. I've included things like Apple Music giving their employees a 9 month free subscription, or Spotify donating $50,000 worth of old sound equipment to a school. When you compare that with the millions of dollars Tidal has raised for multiple different groups in society, it's even less of a contest.

Now, you may make the argument that Apple Music is part of Apple, and they do a mind-boggling amount of charitable things. Very true! But I haven't included Jay-Z's charitable endeavours either, and as AintNoJigga reported recently, that list is vast. When you also consider Tidal is part-owned by Beyonce, Kanye, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Coldplay, Jack White, Rihanna, and a number of others, all of whom have their own philanthropic footprint, the difference between Apple and Tidal in terms of overall contribution is incredibly difficult to calculate. It's much more appropriate to focus on the services themselves.

Spotify aren't even close.

And yet Tidal has endured a fearsome and perplexing smear campaign, propagated either by mainstream media or, as Jay-Z himself alluded to, a "big company" "spending millions" to drag the service at every turn. The evidence is pretty damning. Billboard published this headline in 2015:
'Tidal Blew It': All the Artists That Have Hammered Tidal
 The article then lists Mumford & Sons, Lily Allen, Ben Gibbard, and a slightly unrelated quote from Haxan Cloak. The implication in the headline is that a slew of artists have criticised the company, when in actual fact it was just 4, a tiny number compared to all the artists that endorsed it at launch, and one of them, Marcus Mumford, retracted his criticism mere weeks later, although you won't find his words on any of the major music sites. Not sure why, maybe they just didn't feel the need to print this:
I ended up having a conversation with Jay Z about it. He was gracious enough to give me a ring. And I get it much better now. He’s trying to create a sort of farmers’ market for music. It’s sort of an old-school record store. Which I like, now that I understand the vision.
We could list critical headlines for days, it seems as though every time Tidal does something, anything, there has to be a negative spin on it. This article by Brian Bush even managed a negative angle to Jay and Beyonce's philanthropic endeavours regarding the bail money they provided protesters during the Baltimore protests, the money they donated to the Black Lives Matter movement, and Beyonce's trip to Haiti to meet with earthquake victims.
...the cynic within me wonders about the timing: Is the recent string of social activism genuine? Or is it merely an attempt to buoy Jay-Z's struggling music streaming service
There are even more blatant contradictions. When Taylor Swift pulled her music off Spotify in 2014 in protest of the "free-tier", healines like "Taylor Swift vs. Spotify: Why Music Should Not Be Free" popped up everywhere. Her subsequent "war on streaming platforms" had her hailed as a "saviour" for streaming services, with Time even publishing this headline:

How Taylor Swift Saved Apple Music

 That headline was published June 30, 2015, and was in response to Taylor demanding Apple pay artists during the 3 month free-trial period, something that Apple Music should have been doing in the first place.

Here's a line from an article on the same website (, just over a month prior to that headline, with regards to Tidal:
The spate of bad press Tidal has received since it launched is mostly its own doing. The optics of the launch event, with music's biggest wealthiest stars on stage begging fans to spend more on music, couldn't have been worse.
And while Spotify was, and still is, criticised for offering a free tier, Tidal is criticised for being too expensive, despite being exactly the same price as both Apple Music and Spotify. Lossless audio is more expensive, but no-one is forcing you to buy a lossless subscription...

And don't forget, Tidal pays artists significantly more than the competition. According to Forbes, Tidal is the second highest payer per stream (behind Napster), at $0.0110, with Apple Music paying just $0.0064 and Spotify a woeful $0.0038.

Guess what? There is now no excuse not to have a Tidal subscription. They have all the same basic features of Spotify and Apple Music, they have more exclusive content, they have more music videos, more podcasts, more live streaming events, and they do more for the culture than the other two put together.

If you care about music culture, if you care about artists, if you care about the causes that Tidal supports (ending police brutality, achieving racial and gender equality, providing relief for victims of natural disasters etc etc), there is genuinely no argument you can make that Spotify, Apple Music, or any of the other streaming services for that matter, are better than Tidal. 

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