Tidal gets a free plan and announces new direct-to-artist payments

Tidal logo
Tidal logo (Image credit: Tidal)

What you need to know

  • Tidal has announced a new free plan for music lovers.
  • A new direct-to-artist payment system has been shown off.

Music streaming service Tidal has announced that it has a new free tier, giving people the chance to listen to music with "limited interruptions" without paying a fee. The same announcement also includes details about a new direct-to-artist payment system.

With the addition of a new free tier, there are now three versions of Tidal available to music fans.

  • TIDAL Free (US-only): For the first time, music fans can now try TIDAL at no cost, with access to our entire music catalog and playlists, with limited interruptions.
  • TIDAL HiFi: At $9.99/month, this tier offers interruption-free access to HiFi sound quality. With TIDAL HiFi, members have offline capabilities, access to features like TIDAL Connect and My Activity, which provides individualized daily listening insights.
  • TIDAL HiFi Plus: For $19.99/month, HiFi Plus features everything the HiFi tier offers, in addition the introduction of fan-centered royalties and direct-to-artist payments. HiFi Plus will also continue to provide access to the best-in-class immersive sound formats (Dolby Atmos Music & Sony 360 Audio Recordings) and Master Quality Authenticated (MQA), alongside early access to exclusive offerings and future features.

The company also confirmed that it is launching monthly direct-to-artist payments, depending on the tier listeners are using when a song is played.

  • Direct-to-artist payments: Beginning today, TIDAL will launch monthly direct-to-artist payments. This innovative program will give artists access to an additional payment stream, so they can benefit directly from their biggest fans on TIDAL. Each month, a percentage of HiFi Plus subscribers' membership fees will be directed towards their top streamed artist, which they will see in their activity feed. This direct-to-artist payment is in addition to their streaming royalties.
  • Fan-centered royalties: Starting in 2022, TIDAL is taking a different approach on royalties. In this new model, royalties attributed to HiFi Plus subscribers will not be aggregated. Rather, royalties will be paid based on the actual streaming activity of individual HiFi Plus subscribers as opposed to the industry accepted method of aggregating streams, empowering fans to play a larger role in the success of their favorite artists.

Tidal says that it has teamed up with Square, Cash App, and PayPal to handle the payment mechanism.

All of this makes for an interesting alternative to the usual Apple Music and Spotify options, with the former not having a free tier whatsoever. Will this move be enough to make people switch to Tidal? Time will, as always, tell.

Apple Music is often seen as the best iPhone option, but more competition is always welcome and ensures even better features and services for us, the customer.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.