century. The degree to which artists are compensated for their music being played on streaming services has dominated debate surrounding these platforms, and has led to high-profile clashes between artists like Taylor Swift and Thom Yorke, and companies like Spotify. Whether Spotify represents a fair deal for artists is up for debate, but the service’s popularity is undeniable. As of June 2016, the platform boasts half a billion registered users, 100m monthly active users and over 30m paying subscribers. Spotify is available in over 50 languages, and operates in Western Europe, North and South America, and Australia. In the US, 15 per cent of smartphone users have the dedicated Spotify app on their mobile
Spotify users can receive personalised recommendations through the service’s Discover Weekly playlist
and, with 39m monthly active users, the Facebook version of its app – which was heavily marketed in the US – is one of the most popular applications hosted within the social network. Spotify’s subscription packages set the rhythm for industry standards, with Premium costing £9.99 a month for unlimited, ad-free HD-quality audio, which can be listened to offline. A Family package is also available for £14.99 a month. Unlike Apple Music, Spotify also offers a free, ad-supported version. On mobile, the free version includes unlimited plays, but only in ‘shuffle’ mode. One of Spotify’s big selling points is its music curation functionality, with an active community of users, built up over almost 10 years of operation, who
put together their own playlists, on top of the company’s own. While the service has roughly the same number of songs in total as Apple Music, Spotify seems to have cracked music recommendation in a way that Apple has yet to match. Its Discover Weekly playlist – a personalised, algorithmically generated list of 30 songs that it updates every Monday – boasts 40m subscribers, a huge portion of its user base, with more than half of those listening to at least 10 tracks a week and saving at least one song to their own playlists.
Tidal While Apple Music may have been highly anticipated by everyone in the tech
songwriters within the music streaming market, and maintains close relationships with many performers. Those close relationships underpin Tidal’s unique selling point in the music streaming market – its large number of exclusive releases. Most of the artists who have a stake in the ownership have either released tracks early on Tidal or have songs that are only available on the platform. Among the high-profile releases to debut on the service are Beyoncé’s Lemonade, Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo and Rihanna’s Anti. In addition, the platform is the only streaming service to offer Prince’s entire back catalogue of albums, most of which have been pulled from other streaming services.
Tidal maintains close relationships with many artists, meaning that it is able to secure a large number of exclusive releases
industry, the highest-profile launch almost certainly belongs to Tidal. The service was unveiled in a press conference involving Jay Z, Beyoncé, Prince, Madonna, Kanye West, Daft Punk, Jack White, Calvin Harris and Coldplay’s Chris Martin among others. Tidal was created by a team of Norwegian and Swedish developers called Aspiro, but rose to prominence when it was acquired by Jay-Z and relaunched in March 2015. The service focuses on a high-fidelity audio offering that promises over 25m tracks of lossless audio and more than 85,000 high-definition music videos, with curated channels and playlists. Thanks largely to its status as a musician-owned platform, Tidal reportedly pays the highest percentage of royalties to artists and
Tidal’s high-fidelity audio and exclusive tracks come at a cost, however. Tidal Premium costs £9.99 a month, while Tidal HiFi, which grants access to the lossless audio version of songs, sets users back £19.99 a month. Both levels of subscription are entirely ad-free and offer unlimited plays. The higher price level for accessing the lossless audio, combined with a launch that, despite being high-profile, left many consumers confused over what differentiated Tidal from other services, have meant the platform has struggled to attract subscribers in its first year, with only 3m signed up so far. Whether Tidal has the legs to survive will depend largely on the power of its exclusive releases to draw in new users who are willing to pay. MM
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