Last updated on Feb 17, 2020

Tidal vs. Spotify

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Tidal vs. Spotify

Tidal is a music streaming company started by musicians Jay Z, Beyoncé, Jack White, Alicia Keys, and Kanye West, along with other popular artists. It not only offers an impressive catalog and HD quality music, but its moral compass is also a noteworthy characteristic of the company. It claims to pay the highest ratio of royalties versus revenues to music creators, while also providing discounts to military and first responders (EMT, EMS, firefighters, and police officers).

Spotify functions as a staple of the music streaming industry, with an enormous subscriber base of 100 million-plus users. The streaming giant is known around the world for its free version, which gives subscribers access to the service’s entire library.

Tidal Premium vs. Spotify Premium Overview

Both premium streaming services provide ad-free, downloadable music with unlimited plays, skips, and replays. You can try Tidal for 30 days for free, while Spotify offers a three-month trial period.

Tidal Premium
Spotify Premium
Monthly price
$9.99/mo.
$9.99/mo.
Student plan
$4.99/mo.
$4.99/mo.
Family plan
$14.99/mo.
$14.99/mo.
Military/First responder plan
$5.99/mo.
None
Number of songs
60 million+
50 million+
Free trial length
30 days
3 months

Song library

It’s nearly impossible to verify the enormous numbers claimed by both streaming giant’s catalogs, especially since they add thousands of songs every day. Tidal claims to have more than 60 million songs in its library, whereas numerous sources have placed Spotify’s library around 50 million. However, the tracks that make up their respective catalogs tend to differ on a variety of factors. For example, some artists refuse to allow their music on Spotify due to inadequate royalty payments. The services also differ when it comes to popular genres. Spotify has a more diverse collection, while Tidal leans more towards hip-hop.

HD plan

Spotify doesn’t currently offer an HD music model to compete with Tidal’s HD upgrade. Tidal’s HD HiFi subscription is designed for audiophiles who thirst for pristine, lossless CD-quality sound. Along with releasing its entire catalog to high-res quality, HiFi also includes a limited, expert-curated catalog known as Tidal Masters. Its high-res tracks consist of MQA format, which deals 24-bit audio. Just keep in mind, not all devices are capable of delivering audio of this quality, so you’ll need to find out if MQA works with your desktop, smartphone, or tablet.

Tidal HiFi starts its individual plan at $19.99 per month. It also offers a reduced $9.99 per month student plan, and a family plan for $29.99 per month. HiFi provides exclusive discounts for military and first responders for $11.99 per month.

Device compatibility

Tidal and Spotify’s premium services both offer a wide range of compatible devices. These include computers, smartphones, smart speakers, and tablets. However, Tidal doesn’t necessarily compare evenly with its rival.

It’s no secret that Spotify easily works with almost every Bluetooth and third-party device on the market. In fact, this is one of its defining features. Tidal is compatible with quite a few high-end streaming devices, but if you want to use the service on your gaming console or Roku, you’ll need to create an account with Plex. This means you’ll need to use a third-party service in order to stream your music with certain operating systems.

Videos and extra features

Tidal boasts a multitude of extra features like videos, podcasts, interviews, and even live concerts that are exclusive to its subscription base. Spotify also offers videos, but, unlike Tidal, you’re unable to download them for offline viewing.

And podcasts are another story entirely. Spotify features more than 450,000 podcasts, including its own exclusive shows. By comparison, Tidal only provides a small fraction of podcasts. Since music is its main priority, Tidal’s podcast content typically centers around artists and their work. Given the popularity of podcasts, Tidal’s lack of content is noticeable when stacked side-by-side with Spotify.

The Bottom Line

Tidal is a great fit for music aficionados thanks to its exclusive videos, artist interviews, live concerts, and extensive 60 million-plus song catalog. And audiophiles can upgrade to Tidal’s HiFi plan to enjoy high-resolution music. But what Tidal offers in exclusivity, Spotify provides in reliability and overall accessibility with its universal compatibility and integrated free version.

About the Authors

Zack Kulm

Zack Kulm Contributing Writer

Zack Kulm is a writer and contributor to soda.com. He covers a variety of topics from entertainment and gaming technologies to pop culture commentary. Kulm received a degree in English from Penn State University and Film Studies from Pittsburgh Filmmakers Institute. He also produces award-winning documentaries.