May 15, 2015


The Week in Tidal: Prince Singlehandedly Improves the Forecast

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

Welcome back to the Week in Tidal, a feature we're running as long aJay Z's half-exciting, all-troubled streaming service keeps making #waves. Last time we looked at Funny or Die's take (which imagined the Ultra Curated ON FLEEK HiFi Premium Lossless Audio Tidal plan), a plea for Tidal to host hip hop mixtapes, and the service's commitment to accordion-centric music. On to the next [week]...

Tidal isn't making as many splashes (sorry; we might stop the watery puns someday) now, six weeks after its preposterously starry launch party/celeb-fest, so certain stories are...floating ;) the top pretty clearly. This week's was Prince. Just everything about Prince. Last week there was hype that the Purple One might release his new song "Baltimore" exclusively on Tidal. That didn't happen (more on the important, now-available song in a sec), but the rumor was followed by a concrete announcement that Prince's Dance Rally 4 Peace concert in the country's newest Civil Rights focal point would stream exclusively on Tidal—well, 60 minutes of it. During and around the show, Tidal's homepage featured a button to donate to youth-oriented Baltimore charities, with the service committing to match all funds donated. The concert happened on Sunday night and got a lot of attention, love and support:

Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun/TNS via Getty Images
Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun/TNS via Getty Images

A vivid and thorough account from the Washington Post's Stacia L. Brown read: "The show ended near midnight, a full two hours past our erstwhile curfew. Its length was an act of rebellion. Its insistence on audience joy was an act of community healing." The set included life-affirming gems like "Raspberry Beret," "1999," "When Doves Cry" and "Purple Rain."

Three days after the Dance Rally 4 Peace concert, 41.5 minutes of ridiculously hi-def audio became available, directly from Prince, on Soundcloud. This keeps happening, where a Tidal "exclusive" winds up all over the internet—through official channels!—within days. So here, on, which is not Tidal, you may and should stream Prince's Baltimore show:

Back to "Baltimore," the song, not the city which got that much-needed boost of positivity from Prince and 3rdEyeGirl. The track came out on the regular internet, which is more "for the people" than Tidal, which wants to be known as being "for the people." Vulture music reporter Lauretta Charlton called "Baltimore" "a vote of confidence from one of the greatest songwriters of all time reassuring young people that their voices are being heard and that their time is now." Here it is:

Anil Dash made and shared a 31-song Spotify playlist of Prince's Baltimore setlist for you. He also, during a live-tweet sesh, offered excellent perspective and significant insight into why the Dance Rally 4 Peace made so much sense:

Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun/TNS via Getty Images
Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun/TNS via Getty Images

The Wall Street Journal: "Contrary to public perception, Tidal is not owned only by Jay-Z, but by a consortium of more than a dozen major artists." Your Hov-directed Twitter jokes just got a little less relevant :\

Word is that Tidal's two Jay Z B-sides concerts will take place at New York City's Terminal 5, which has a 3,000-person capacity. The info about the event says 1,100 winners will get two tickets apiece. So that leaves either an 800-person-sized hole in the venue (more room to bust out those "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" moves!) or a shitload of people on the guestlist.

To win tickets to the gig, Tidal users had to make Tidal playlists which would supposedly be judged based on sequencing and the diversity of both artists and genres. So how the hell did this guy win with a playlist made exclusively of 28 songs by (and featuring) Jay Z?? I mean, congrats to the dude, it's cool for him and it's a dope, well-made playlist that's a fun listen. But this is another instance of Tidal being wacky and dumb.


Celebrity Weighs in on Tidal Pt. 439:

"It's a great idea for the artist to be involved in the distribution. Everything takes time, so we'll see in the next couple of years. But I would bet on Jay Z."
Puff Diddy Daddy

Celebrity Weighs in on Tidal Pt. 440:

"Although I celebrate the idea of him creating his own model it leaves a lot of people out. At some point you have to have winners and losers because that's the way it works. To try and sell it as an altruistic thing is disingenuous because it's not. He is taking his slice of the pie, which he has every right to do—he is a powerful man and he works with powerful people. But by the way, I'm a powerful artist and I don't recall getting a phone call from him. But I get phone calls from other people and I have to make similar decisions. To sell it as altruistic—I don't buy it."
Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan

This is how Jigga responds to your Tidal head-shaking:

A pair of producers put together an indie-rap compilation called When Music Worlds Collideand they tested it out in a Tidal v. Spotify deathmatch. You should go check out the complete tale at Billboard (shoutout Fuse alum Joe Lynch!), but part of the verdict looks good for Tidal:

"I compared [Tidal] to my computer file of one of our songs and the quality was almost insane. Streaming through Tidal sonically has really come of age."

And part looks good for Spotify:

"It is hard to beat some of the functionality of Spotify's app. Every song you have every played remembered in a very long playlist starting with most recent down to first played. I love this feature because I tend to binge listen and this makes it easy for me to go back to my list of the day. And it is very intuitive in analyzing the songs you listen to and recommending artists and songs for you. I get bored on Saturdays and meander through Spotify's web of artists similar to who I listen to, and I always find someone I haven’t thought about in a while."

The Week in Tidal Official Album Test, Vol. 2: 
David BowieThe Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars 
(1972 album, 2012 remaster)

Each week I'm road-testing a familiar album on the app. I'm trying to see if one of Tidal's two biggest claims for relevancy—the highest-fidelity streaming in the West—is detectable to an average music-obsessive on good Bose headphones. Last weekAlabama Shakes' 2015 LP Sound & Colorlike 98 percent of the records and songs I've spun on Tidal, didn't sound different in any way.

Bowie, though. Ziggy fucking Stardust. I don't know if it's my latest honeymoon with this timeless diamond, but I think it sounds a tiny bit fuller and punchier and maybe, somehow, more emotionally rousing here. Could've been a right time/right place thing; I did a few tricky Spotify/Tidal side-by-sides and, wistfulness eliminated, didn't actually discern much difference. Ziggy Stardust is a great album though, definitely.

If you'd like to see an album get the Week in Tidal Official Album Test, send a request to

And this week in Tweets That Don't Appear to Be About Tidal But Actually Are Secretly About Tidal: