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Difference Between Spotify and Tidal

We take a closer look at the two biggest names in the music streaming industry – Spotify and Tidal. While both are popular music streaming platforms with the same basic premise, but there are subtle differences between the two.

What is Spotify?

Spotify is a global leader in music streaming industry with a whopping 356 million+ active monthly users and more than 150 million paid subscribers worldwide. Originally founded in Sweden in 2006, it has been widely available to the public since October 2008. It started as an invite-only service in selected European countries, offering free streaming of millions of tracks in exchange for listening to a few ads in between. Spotify changed the way we access music, making it easy to search for music and hear it streamed from the internet. Spotify helps make instant access to all music possible, whether you’re on your mobile device or desktop computer.

What is Tidal?

Tidal is a Norwegian music streaming, podcast and video streaming service that offers high-quality audio and music videos. It is a global music and entertainment platform that is committed to unite fans and artists. Like Spotify, Tidal has a massive library of music, curated playlists, and easy to use apps. Tidal is an American company that was bought out by the infamous hip-hop star Jay Z in 2015, becoming the first music streaming platform to be owned by the artists themselves.

Difference between Spotify and Tidal

Music Library 

– Spotify is a Swedish company and has been around for longer and focuses on personalized algorithms and social features. Tidal is the first music streaming platform to be owned by an artist himself. In general, both of them have the same songs with a huge music library. Tidal has an edge over Spotify when it comes to library size, but Spotify is more niche.

Music Discovery

 – The two music streaming services are pretty much similar when it comes to music discovery and both enable you to browse by genre, mood, activity, and more. They both allow access to the radio feature that makes it easy to discover music similar to what you mostly listen to. Spotify does have the popular Discover Weekly feature, which is a curated list of songs from artists and genres you love listening to. Tidal offers up to eight playlists focusing on eight different genres.

Audio Quality

 – Tidal claims to have the best music quality of any music platform out there. The Tidal HiFi subscription offers four streaming quality settings – Normal, High, HiFi and MQA (Master Quality Authenticated). The amount of kbps that Tidal compresses at is at the highest, meaning their quality of music is highest. Tidal Premium offers maximum of 320 kbps via AAC. Both HiFi and MQA promise high-quality audio delivered via FLAC or WAV files. Spotify also offers different audio configurations but the max it can go is Ogg Vorbis at 320 kbps.

Pricing and Plans

 – Spotify has a free plan for its listeners but with ads along with a couple of limitations like you can only play music in shuffle mode and skip tracks only six times per hour. Spotify Premium costs $9.99 per month for ad-free service or if you’re a student, Spotify costs only $4.99 per month. You can also enjoy the family plan for up to six accounts at $15.99. Tidal has a similar pricing strategy, starting at $9.99 per month for 320 kbps AAC+ music, or $19.99 for non-compressed 1411 kbps FLAC audio. Tidal, however, does not have a free, ad-supported version like Spotify.

Spotify vs. Tidal: Comparison Chart


Both Spotify and Tidal are popular music streaming platforms with a fairly similar pricing plan. However, the pricing of Spotify is a bit cheaper than Tidal, plus there is a free ad-supported version, which Tidal clearly lacks. Spotify focuses on personalized algorithms and social features, and it also has the benefit of Spotify Connect, which, if you are a premium member, allows you to stream directly to speakers or TVs. Spotify is also more social than Tidal and you can actually listen to what your friends are listening to. Spotify also works with Google Maps and Waze, while Tidal supports only Waze.

Can you hear difference between Spotify and Tidal?

Spotify has been around for longer than Tidal and it has more social features than Tidal. Spotify has a Friend Activity section, which allows you to listen to what your friends are listening to. Both are great music streaming platforms but they have their fair share of pros and cons.

Does Tidal have all music?

Tidal has a huge music catalog compared to Spotify and it claims to have been artist owned and pays highest percentage of royalties to the songwriters. Spotify is more niche. Tidal does have more artist exclusives than Spotify.

Does Tidal really pay more?

Tidal pays a bit better to the songwriters in royalties. It pays out, on an average, more per stream than its rivals including Spotify. Tidal pays about $0.009 per stream on average compared to Spotify, which pays about $0.003 per stream, on an average.

Is Tidal worth the money?

Tidal is definitely worth the money, considering it’s the first music streaming platform to be owned by the artists themselves and it has a huge music catalogue and high quality music and what not. Tidal also offers CD-like music quality, offering a great music listening experience.

Does Jay Z own Tidal?

Square, the mobile payments firm run by Jack Dorsey, is the majority stake holder in Tidal and Jay-Z has a board position. Jay-Z along with other artists who own stocks in Tidal remain the shareholders.

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References :

[0]Gilmour, Kim. Spotify For Dummies. New Jersey, United States: John Wiley & Sons, 2011. Print

[1]Kamalipour, Yahya R. Global Communication: A Multicultural Perspective. Maryland, United States: Rowman & Littlefield, 2019. Print

[2]Rutnik, Mitja. “Tidal vs Spotify: Which one is the better option for you?.” Android Authority, Authority Media, https://www.androidauthority.com/tidal-vs-spotify-1119066/. Accessed 20 July 2021.

[3]Image credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/18/Tidal_%28service%29_logo.svg/640px-Tidal_%28service%29_logo.svg.png

[4]Image credit: https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/49760009206_a3e3eb66f6_z.jpg

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