The future of music

Tidal vs Spotify: Which Platform Wins?

August 3, 2023
tidal vs spotify

With so many great music streaming platforms out there, it’s easy to get confused.

But each platform has its own unique features and highlights, so you just need to find a service that meets your needs. 

And today we bring you a comparison of the two streaming superstars – Tidal vs Spotify. 

We’ll take a look at their main features, pricing, and other relevant factors that will help you find the best music streaming service for you.

Tidal and Spotify – How Do They Work?

When it comes to the top music streaming services, Tidal and Spotify are always high on the list.

Both streaming apps are popular, well-designed, and very easy to use – but at their core, they’re actually very different. 

Tidal provides high-quality audio, while Spotify prioritizes social features. 

There are many other factors you should take into account as well, including music discovery features, membership plans, app functionality, music library, and so on. 

But let’s take a quick look at how each platform works first.

Tidal

Tidal was launched in 2014, and it was developed by Aspiro, a Norwegian-Swedish tech company that also owns a music streaming service called WiMP. 

But in 2015, Tidal was acquired by Project Panther Bidco Ltd (a company owned by Jay Z) – that’s when Tidal gained its first million subscribers. 

The platform was sold again in 2021, and as of 2022, it’s available in 61 countries.

So, Tidal has evolved and grown a lot over the years, and now it has a reputation for being one of the best music apps available.

Tidal

Tidal presents itself as an artist-first, fan-centered platform, but the service is primarily known for its top-notch audio quality.

Unlike many of its competitors, Tidal provides CD-quality, lossless sound.

The TIDAL HiFi Plus membership offers four settings for streaming quality, including Normal, High, HiFi, and Master Quality Authenticated (MQA).

Besides top audio quality, the app also excels at delivering a great user experience.

It offers personalized curation of songs and videos, hand-picked playlists, and exclusive live streams.

Tidal is one of the most popular streaming apps for a good reason, and it’s an excellent choice for music lovers, especially those looking for a lossless audio experience. 

Spotify 

Founded in 2006, Spotify evolved to be one of the biggest streaming platforms in the world.

According to Statista, in the first quarter of 2023, Spotify reported 515 million active users worldwide.

One of the reasons so many people use Spotify is its convenience and flexibility – you can launch the Spotify app on Android, iPhone, desktop, and smart TV apps, and it’s an excellent car companion as well.  

Generally, Spotify offers collaborative playlists, group session options, podcasts, and an extensive music library.

The platform has strong social features, and it’s ideal for connecting with friends and checking out what they’re listening to at the moment. 

The app is also well-designed, eye-catching, and easy to navigate.

Spotify

On top of that, Spotify provides an easy way to create playlists and listen to music that fits your taste.

You can simply search for artists you like and follow them, so you can stay up to date with new releases. 

And if someone you follow releases a new song, the track will show up on the Release Radar playlist, along with other tracks that you might like.

To provide you with daily playlists and song recommendations, Spotify analyzes your streaming history.

Besides new releases lists, you’ll get Daily Mix playlists – Spotify Daily Mix provides 6 personalized playlists of different artists and genres based on your music preference.

That being said, Spotify is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a reliable streaming service with strong social and music discovery features.

But how does Spotify stand in comparison with other streaming giants such as Tidal? 

Tidal vs Spotify – Which One Is Better?

Now that you know what each platform is all about, let’s compare their characteristics and features so you can decide which platform is a better option for you.

User interface

Spotify and Tidal both have clean, dark-themed user interfaces.

Both platforms are also very easy to use – all user functions are clear and straightforward, both on phone and desktop versions.

They have a drag-and-drop function, which allows you to easily add songs or albums to playlists.

Plus, their drop-down menus have plenty to offer.

All things considered, both platforms come with many benefits when it comes to user interface and ease of use – they’re both efficient and eye-catching. 

However, Tidal has a couple of extra functions, such as the possibility to change sound quality without going into app settings.

This is a cool option for sure, but if you don’t intend to use the audio quality button that often, it’s not really a game-changer.

Streaming quality

Speaking of audio quality, this is where Spotify and Tidal differ a lot.

Tidal offers a lossless audio experience and high-fidelity sound quality.

In other words, Tidal provides incredible sound. 

Tidal HiFi offers four audio settings: 

  • Normal (96 kbps)
  • High (320 kbps)
  • HiFi (1,411 kbps)
  • Master (2,304 – 9,216 kbps)

Tidal HiFi uses FLAC to deliver millions of lossless tracks – they are significantly higher quality than standard definition MP3s or simply compressed streams.

But why do lossless files sound better than lossy files, and how does that affect your listening experience?

In essence, lossless audio preserves all of the original audio information so it’s basically identical to the source.

Lossless files have a set bit depth, so the bit depth stays the same throughout the song.

On the other hand, lossy files use a variable bit-depth to reduce the file size, and you might come across clipping, aliasing, or other forms of audio degradation.

Lossy files sacrifice audio quality because they’re highly compressed.

But in order to benefit from Tidal’s sound settings, you’ll have to use a good audio system, and lossless files will sound noticeably better when listened to at a loud volume. 

Speaker and Plant

Spotify offers different audio quality settings as well, but the maximum streaming quality is 320kbps. 

Also, Spotify makes use of AAC and Ogg Vorbis, both widely-used standard lossy formats.

They announced Spotify HiFi in 2021, but they delayed the launch for unknown reasons.

Spotify offers great audio quality though, especially if you don’t intend to use high-end studio headphones to listen to music. 

And since Spotify consumes about 150MB of data per hour (about 7 to 8 MB per song), playback is rather smooth and quick to load when you skip tracks.

Nevertheless, in terms of streaming and audio quality, Tidal clearly wins.

Playlists

Spotify allows you to create playlists, save songs, and follow artists you like.

There are many curated playlists you can explore, from independent playlists to playlists made by Spotify’s editorial team.

You can search playlists by genre, mood, and similar artists.

Plus, thanks to its smart algorithm, Spotify will provide you with personalized mix playlists based on your streaming history.

These daily playlists normally feature artists and tracks you’re familiar with, but they can also feature something new that you might like.

Daily mix playlists update every 7 days, which ultimately makes Spotify a great place to discover new music as well as listen to tracks that fit your taste. 

Spotify

Spotify also has Release Radar and What’re New playlists – this way, you’ll get new music from artists you follow, artists you listen to, and other artists you might like. 

If you’re an artist, submitting a pitch to Spotify playlist editors at least 7 days before release day will get your song on your followers’ Release Radar playlists.

Tidal provides personalized playlists as well, but not as much as Spotify.

Nevertheless, Tidal still does a great job of providing recommendations.

The app also allows you to create playlists, and since last year, you can share them with your friends as well.

So, Tidal decided to catch up with Spotify and other competitors in that department. 

But unlike many of its competitors, Tidal features over 650,000 high-quality videos, including music videos, original content, exclusive live streams, and events.

Spotify might be praised for its playlists and flexibility, but Tidal compensates for this by offering extra content. 

Phone apps

Both platforms are available on a variety of platforms, including phones. 

Spotify is available on Android, iOS, Blackberry, and Windows Mobile, and Windows Phone.

The app is well-designed and easy to navigate, especially if you’re a subscriber.

Tidal is available on various devices as well, and thanks to its feature Tidal Connect, it allows direct streaming of songs to compatible hardware within the app.

You can switch seamlessly between devices without leaving the app.

Additionally, the app supports the casting of MQA and Dolby Atmos files.

So, both apps are great for music streaming, regardless of the type of device you have.

Music discovery features 

When it comes to music discovery features, both Tidal and Spotify offer great ways to discover new songs.

Tidal provides playlists based on your listening habits, so you’ll get plenty of good recommendations for tracks and artists you might like. 

Tidal’s AI-based playlists include My Daily Discovery, My Mix(es), and My New Arrivals. 

Music Discovery features

On Spotify, you can easily search for a specific song and artist, and on a desktop version, you can do it for free.

You can also skip songs, and as we mentioned before, you’ll get a ton of recommendations based on your musical preferences.

There are countless playlists based on genre, mood, and year of release, and algorithmically designed playlists are always on point.

Spotify simply knows what kind of music you want to discover, and the more songs you listen to, the more personalized and accurate your playlists are going to get. 

All things considered, both platforms are great in terms of music discovery, but Spotify has slightly better options. 

Subscriptions

Both Tidal and Spotify offer several membership plans with perks such as:

  • 30-day free trial
  • Ad-free listening
  • On-demand playback 
  • Huge song library 
  • Access to all platform content
  • Offline listening option 

However, Spotify also has a free plan that offers quite a lot.

The desktop version, for example, offers unlimited track skips, regardless of if you have Spotify Premium or not.

You’ll have to be ready for commercials though, and the audio quality is limited. 

But their subscription plans are rather affordable, especially if you share the accounts with others.

The subscription to the Spotify Individual Premium plan costs $9.99 per month, and they also offer Spotify Duo, Family Plans, Spotify Student, and so on.

Tidal offers multiple pricing plans as well, including Tidal HiFi and Tidal HiFi Plus. 

Both HiFi and HiFi Plus offer family subscriptions which allow up to six accounts, and there’s also a discount for students.

Either way, Tidal HiFi Plus is more expensive than Spotify, but it does come with some advantages such as higher-quality audio.

It all depends on your goals and priorities. 

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly streaming app, you should definitely go for Spotify.

And if you’re looking for excellent sound quality, you should check out Tidal’s membership plans.

Music Library

In terms of the size of the music library, both Spotify and Tidal have impressive song catalogs. 

Spotify reportedly has roughly 100 million songs in its music catalog. 

There’s a variety of genres to choose from (around 60, to be more precise), including electronic music, alternative rock, classical music, rap, country, ambient, and dubstep.

And there are many themed playlists such as throwback playlists, summer playlists, holiday playlists, and so on. 

Also, Spotify has licensing deals with some top record labels like Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music, so there’s no shortage of new music drops and popular hits. 

Since Spotify accepts music from anyone who submits to it, it features a ton of music from indie artists as well.

Spotify truly has plenty to offer, both for casual listeners and enthusiastic music lovers. 

3 Mobile Phones opening Music Library

Even though it was launched six years after Spotify, Tidal managed to become its rival even in terms of its music library.

Tidal has an extensive song library of more than 80 million songs, covering all sorts of genres, moods, and styles.

You can explore the latest hits in Tidal’s ‘Top’ section, but you can also search for lesser-known songs and emerging artists.

In the Tidal Rising section, you can explore fresh music and up-and-coming musicians.

That being said, both Tidal and Spotify provide huge music libraries made for fans of all music tastes. 

Social features

If you’re looking for an app with great social features, Spotify is one of the best streaming services you can opt for.

The app allows you to share individual songs, full albums, and playlists via special links that target the Spotify app.

Moreover, you can easily connect with friends and like-minded music lovers, share your playlists with them, and check their listening activity and history. 

The friend listening activity section is currently only available on the desktop version though. 

Finally, thanks to the app’s Remote group session feature, you can start a group session, invite friends, and listen to music and podcasts together.

As you can see, Spotify really does a great job of connecting people and making them feel active and involved.

Tidal, on the other hand, offers basic social features such as sharing songs on your social media profiles.

But the platform recently introduced a new Live feature that allows you to host a live DJing session. 

So, perhaps we’ll see more similar updates from Tidal in the future. 

Additional features and content 

If you’re still not sure which music streaming app meets your needs, you should take a look at its additional features.

Spotify’s additional features include:

  • Carplay and Android Auto compatibility
  • Spotify Wrapped – data collected from your Spotify account throughout the year (most-listened artists, genres, songs, and so on)
  • Spotify for Artists 
  • Sleep Timer
  • Podcasts 

The Spotify app is packed with features, and it offers versatile content.

Besides music, Spotify offers more than 5 million podcast titles.

And with the acquisitions of Storytel, it decided to tap into the world of audiobooks as well. 

But Tidal has plenty to offer as well, with its video library of over 650,000 music videos, original content, exclusive live streams, and events.

This also includes interviews, talk shows, album commentaries, and documentaries.

Mobile phone playing live music performance

In addition to high-quality videos, Tidal provides its subscribers with access to virtual reality concerts. 

Thanks to the Oculus VR technology, Tidal subscribers can enjoy live performances and share the experience with friends via the Venues app.

Spotify offers live-streamed concerts as well, but Tidal is a bit more up-to-date when it comes to virtual content.

Nonetheless, both services offer a variety of tools, options, and content. 

Both platforms are compatible with Apple Carplay and Android Auto, so you can easily stream music and podcasts in your car.

And both Spotify and Tidal provide end-of-year recaps.

However, Spotify’s Wrapped is a bit more fun as it shows a shareable animation of infographics showing your most-listened songs, genres, artists, and much more.

Which Is Better for the Artists – Spotify or Tidal?

At the end of the day, whether you should opt for Tidal or Spotify is entirely up to you.

But if you’re an aspiring music artist and you’re looking for a streaming service to upload your music, you should know this: 

Spotify pays artists between $0.003 – $0.005 per stream on average, while Tidal gives around up to $0.013 per stream.

Moreover, Tidal has in-depth credit pages, outlining who contributed to the music and how.

With TIDAL Artist Home, you can claim your artist profile and customize it by adding a profile image, bio, and social links. 

And with its Tidal Rising program, the platform directly supports up-and-coming musicians and artists who are not yet widely known. 

Although it pays its artists less per stream than Tidal, Spotify is a good option for artists as well.

After all, Spotify is one of the most popular music streaming services out there, and distributing and promoting your music on Spotify can only be beneficial to you.

Spotify for Artists profile allows you to customize your artist profile, promote your music, pitch your songs to playlist editors, and connect with your fans.

It also provides detailed analytics and streaming data about your music and your listeners. 

PlayListing background picture

Both Tidal and Spotify are artist-friendly, although Tidal pays its artists more.

Either way, if you’re an independent artist and you want to release and promote your music online, uploading it on the biggest music streaming platforms is a must.

Tidal vs Spotify – Final Thoughts 

In conclusion, Tidal and Spotify are both excellent music streaming platforms that offer plenty of content for music lovers.

Tidal offers an excellent listening experience with its high-quality lossless audio, and it provides exclusive video content and access to live concerts and events.

Spotify, on the other hand, prioritizes music discovery and personalization, and it’s a great choice for anyone on a budget since it offers a free version.

So, it all comes down to your preferences – you can’t go wrong with either option.

You may also like: Amazon Music vs Spotify

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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