The launch of Jay-Z’s streaming music service Tidal has dominated the news cycle this month. Among the opulent launch parties, debate over hi-fi streaming material, and questions of how Apple will reform Beats to compete, a discomforting trend is beginning to emerge. Artists are choosing to release their content exclusively on Tidal. Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Jason Aldean, and even HOVA himself offer musical content only to Tidal users. And more artists are joining every day.
Spotify and Apple also command major influence in the music industry, and will be forced to compete. Taken to its logical conclusion, a time is coming very soon when competing streaming services will all offer exclusive content. Whether it’s done on an individual artist or label basis, one thing is clear: if you only subscribe to one service, sooner or later you’ll want music you can’t stream.
The billion dollar question then, is Will you pay to use more than one music streaming service at the same time? Both answers come with sacrifices. Saying “yes” guarantees you a life of app-flipping and doubles or triples your monthly fee if you subscribe. $30/month isn’t a lot of money, but it is substantially more than the $9/month most of us are used to paying.
Saying “no” will definitely simplify your life, but will leave you locked out of certain music. How much content and to what extent it will be exclusive remains to be seen, but if the writing on the wall can be believed EDM fans might end up using Tidal just to hear deadmau5′ new album.
It’s worth noting that an intrepid user could presumably run all three platforms for free, but if you’re anything like us ads in music get old fast. Especially if you’re also having to hop between platforms. Right now Spotify users can hear almost anything they want within a single app. As The Verge notes, “Vigorous competition between services is usually great for consumers, but in this case, as the struggle between artists, labels, and tech platforms plays out, paying for more than one streaming service could be the only way to access all the music that you want.”
That’s great news for artists and record labels being able to hand-pick their distribution, but we can’t help but feel like no one ever stopped to ask what’s good for us: the fans.
So, would you?
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