Tidal registers 3 million users…45% on ‘Hifi’?


Whilst Stateside audiophiles sung their hallelujahs during the October 2014 launch of its lossless ‘Hifi’ tier, streaming service Tidal didn’t see a more robust push for a mainstream audience until Jay Z’s acquisition of parent company Aspiro six months later.

An over-wrought, star-studded reboot in March 2015 divided opinion: were its sixteen artist-owners crying poor or were they going front foot on the artist remuneration debate?

The force-fed hash-tagging of #TidalForALL mattered not a jot to audiophiles already enjoying the Hifi tier but mainstream take up would be pivotal to long-term financial health. Serious subscriber uptake of Tidal’s US$9.99/month lossy tier would be needed to ensure the ongoing viability of its bandwidth hungry US$19.99/month lossless option.

At time of re-launch Tidal was but six months old and had amassed a mere half million subscribers. The doubters doubted and the haters hated.

Twelve months on (almost to the day) and the picture is far rosier for the Oslo-headquartered company. According to figures coming over the wire, Tidal has amassed a further 2.5 million subscribers and four new artist owners in the past year.

One might easily (lazily?) point to Kanye West’s “Life Of Pablo” – that remains a Tidal exclusive and was streamed 250m times in its first ten days – or Rhianna’s ANTI – that streamed exclusively on Tidal for a full week ahead of its official release – as being the magic bullets in Jay Z’s arsenal. But it could equally be the service’s ever expanding song library (now at 40 million) or the 130,000 “high quality” videos or further exclusives from Dead Weather and Beyoncé. Likely it’s a combination of ALL of these value-adds.

Not to say that Tidal is out of the woods yet. The current 3.5 million subscriber base is outgunned (almost) ten to one by Spotify and almost four-fold by Apple Music.

However, what is REALLY interesting about today’s Tidal announcement is a stat that didn’t feature in the press release but published by Billboard (here): that 45% of subscribers are on the Hifi tier. (This data point remains unconfirmed by DAR’s own Tidal contact).

If true, it’s the clearest indication yet that not all mainstreamers are content with the Ogg Vorbis of Spotify or the AAC of Apple Music, essentially the McDonald’s and Burger King of streaming audio. Fun for the occasional outing but deleterious to our general well being if consumed on a regular basis.

We don’t eat fast food every day of the week, so why not treat our ear-brains the same way? It would seem many listeners beyond the audiophile niche are waking up to the more wholesome nourishment of good old fashioned CD quality music.

With Qobuz in financial recovery and yet to launch in the USA, and Deezer’s lossless service (‘Elite’) still shackled to Sonos, Tidal remains the one to watch.

Further information: Tidal Hifi

Written by John H. Darko

John lives in the NOW + HERE = NOWHERE. He derives an income from the ad revenues of DAR. John is also an occasional staff writer for Stereophile, 6moons and TONEAudio.

Twitter: DarkoAudio
Instagram: DarkoAudio
Facebook: DAR


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  1. Lossless streaming is the only feature that differentiates Tidal from the otherwise much better service Spotify.

    Now, can I actually hear the difference? … Ahem

  2. John – do you have any insight as to when Deezer may be out of exclusivity with Sonos? I was hoping it was a one-year deal, which would take it through to right about now.

    • I thought it was a one year deal also and I asked an Australian Sonos rep about this recently. He seemed as much in the dark as you or I.

  3. If you can’t, well, maybe it’s time for a hearing aid and not a new set of cans…. 😉

    We use tidal almost exclusively for home and shows.. At shows we always pull down the songs and playlists. Then simply fore away from the iPad or iPhone and occasionally the Mac.

    I still like Apple Music for my ‘mood’ music at home… They do a little somethin’ somethin’ with the audio that just makes its easier to listen for long periods of time. Yea, I know it’s not bit superior, but it’s pleasant.

  4. Music out of this ,I hate those puppets ,they been controlled by money
    they will always be the scum of the human race. hope they all vanish with their satanic masters .
    Pathetic .

      • I hope he’s not referring to the, uh, “predominantly-Black” artists daring to impinge on the real power of capitalism – not creation, but indoctrination and distribution. Note how few people complain that the, uh, “predominantly-White” executive class that dominates that power are a bunch of parasites with no artistic values or talent. Not just Spotify and Pandora, but all the executives who ran the recording industry into the ground.

        It’s just a shame that non-pop musicians have zero say in business. They are the ones who really need what Tidal represents: quality, access, and decent percentages.

      • there are many other options ,we need to stop them here and now , our kids been taken from us to worship these fake idols .

        • As Paul Simon once said/sang, “Every generation throws a hero up the pop charts”.

  5. Tidal is the only music medium I use now. It’s awesome. But what’s with the MQA thing? Going on 1.5 years or more since it was announced and still apparently in its infancy. John, have you tried it yet at home? What’s the least expensive way to give it a go without spending big money for a new DAC? Is there a clear improvement?


  6. I am a Tidal hifi subscriber, a Deezer Elite subscriber and a former Qobuz subscriber. With good headphones and a good DAC, higher resolution streaming makes a great deal of difference (yes, I can hear the difference between Tidal and 24-96 files as well, but I like the convenience of streaming). I keep Tidal for that reason, and because my Deezer high-rez is shackled to my Sonos. I like Tidal’s sound and music selection, but hate its interface. We all know the music Tidal likes to focus on, but perhaps they could give those of us who prefer other types of music some better customization options or widen their recommendation ranges. In any event, I’m not likely to ditch Tidal because I live in Brasil, where the hi-fi version sells for less than UD$10 a month. That’s quite a deal (Spotify is also considerably cheaper here, for those who want to top out at a 320 bitrate). However, I might flee Tidal if Deezer ever allows my Elite subscription to be played on devices other than a Sonos. I don’t perceive any difference in hi-fi sound quality between Deezer and Tidal, but I find Deezer easier to manage.