TIDAL has big news for music fans: for the first time ever, the high fidelity streaming service is offering a free tier to its membership structure.
Since the company’s launch in 2014, TIDAL has been exclusively driven by premium memberships. The move marks the first big change since being acquired by new parent company Square back in May.
TIDAL will now have three membership tiers: TIDAL Free (only in the US), TIDAL HiFi ($9.99 per month), and TIDAL HiFi Plus ($19.99 per month) The free tier may eventually include ads, but for now it will merely “interrupt” users with prompts encouraging to upgrade to a paid tier. TIDAL Free users will also have no access to features including lyrics, offline downloads, and higher audio quality, according to Billboard.
Ultimately, though, TIDAL is hoping users will upgrade to a HiFi Plus subscription. As a further incentive, the platform has announced a new direct-to-artist pay-out structure that utilizes fan-centered royalties. Instead of paying rights holders based on their share of total streams, fan-centered royalties will be allocated based on the streaming activity of each individual HiFi Plus subscriber. TIDAL will also pay $10% of 10% of the subscription fee from HiFi Plus user to their most listened to artist that month. SoundCloud recently launched a similar payment structure.
“We’re building a platform that values art, artists, and culture, and for the first time opening the platform experience up to a wider group of fans with the free tier,” explained Jesse Dorogusker, Head of TIDAL. “TIDAL is also supporting artists with fairer earning terms and quicker payments, and fans are getting a better way to support their favorite artists. These offerings are the first step of many, and we’re excited to collaborate with artists to evolve our tools to help them continue to grow and create on their own terms.”
Back in July 2020, TIDAL offered free 60-day subscriptions to TIDAL HiFi for new users as a way to reach more fans.