Spotify vs Tidal: A Music Streaming Deathmatch


For the past couple of years, Spotify has showed its dominance over the music streaming market. Music streaming has become a way of life for music lovers who don’t want to pay to own each and every song that has ever existed and instead offers a monthly fee for unlimited music streaming. This is my thoughts on Spotify vs Tidal.

What is Tidal?

Tidal is a newly rebooted music streaming service by the one and only Jay-Z, which takes aim at audiophiles who enjoy high fidelity music and “exclusive” content. The only reason I say “exclusive” is because it’s on the internet, and everyone knows that once it’s on the internet, everyone has access to it. The real “exclusive” features are the pre-sale concert tickets and the like. Jay-Z has teamed up with several musicians such as his wife, Beyonce, Kanye West, Rhianna, and several more to promote and publish exclusive content for the service.

My Experience with Tidal

As a fan of music in general, I wanted to give Tidal a try to see how “premium” the service was and how it differed from Spotify (which I am also a subscriber of). Tidal offers a free 30-day trial for both the $20 lossless subscription as well as the $10 standard quality subscription. The first couple tracks I played consisted of Kendrick Lamar, Beyonce, and similar artists. I tested the quality of tracks on two different systems. The first was my Sonos system including a Playbar and two Play:3s. The second system was in my car, which consists of Focal component speakers in the doors with a shallow 10” sub under the passenger seat. Could I immediately tell a huge difference in the audio quality? Sure, but was it enough for me to pay an additional $10 per month? Probably not, and to be quite honest, I couldn’t really tell how it differed from Spotify, except for the music videos and interviews offered on the Tidal website, which I didn’t use. Tidal also has a noticeable buffering time when switching between songs when your reception on your mobile device is less than perfect due to the large files of the high quality songs offered. One of my biggest beefs with Tidal right now is how they advertise that they offer music from artists not on Spotify (like Taylor Swift), yet there are several artists that don’t have their latest albums available on Tidal. Will you find Taylor Swift’s “1989” album on Tidal. The answer is no. There are also several artists who show up when you search for them in the Tidal app, but then you come to realize that pretty much all of the songs are greyed out and you get an error message stating, “the record label doesn’t permit streaming this track.”

Tidal Unable To Stream

My Experience with Spotify

I’ve had a Spotify subscription for about a year now, and it’s been a great experience. Unlike Tidal, Spotify offers free music streaming from a computer. If you want to stream from a mobile device or listen on the go, you’ll have to upgrade to the paid subscription, which is normally $10/month. Spotify often offers specials and discounts to attract new customers such as the $0.99/month for 3-months as well as the $4.99 subscription for 1-year if you register with an .edu email address. As far as music availability goes, the music libraries on Tidal and Spotify we’re almost identical. The new Taylor Swift album isn’t available on either, and neither are any of the tracks that are “prohibited for streaming” by their record labels.


As someone who’s currently paying $5/month for Spotify, I’m perfectly happy with the service. Even at $10/month, I’d still be okay with paying for the service. At $20/month, that’s where I would unsubscribe and find an alternative or listen to ad-supported radio services like Pandora. Personally, I don’t think that Tidal has enough features to warrant $20 per month from subscribers, but I think it is a good alternative to Spotify if you’re thinking about the $10 subscription plan. I think if more artists jump on the Tidal train, I think it could definitely pave the way for the future of streaming, but until then, I’ll be sticking with Spotify.

What’s your take on Spotify vs Tidal? Looking forward to chatting in the comments below!

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About Alex Wolfe

Alex Wolfe is an Accounting/Information Systems major at Texas a Tech University. When he's not busy with school, he enjoys playing outside with his dog and gaming on Xbox One. He has a huge interest in mobile devices and future technology.

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