Tidal Introduces Free Tier, Direct Artist Payouts

From PC Mag: Tidal has finally introduced a free tier for its streaming music platform as part of a broader push to remind people that Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music aren't the only options.

This new free tier differs from the core Tidal service in a few critical ways. The first is that it doesn't offer what the service calls HiFi audio; tracks will stream at "up to 160 kbps." The second is that it's ad-supported, much like other service's free tiers, although Tidal says you'll only have to suffer through "limited ad interruptions." (Which is what every ad-supported service claims.)

"We’ve determined that a limited free offering is necessary in order to introduce the service into a broader audience," Tidal says in a support article about the new subscription tier. "And, TIDAL [emphasis theirs] pays our label and publishing partners directly for every stream on the free tier without subsidizing these streams with external advertising."

People willing to pay for Tidal have two tiers to choose from: HiFi and HiFi Plus. Both are ad-free services that offer access to the platform's entire catalog with support for offline playback and the ability to "track and share your listening habits." HiFi offers "up to 1411 kbps" playback; HiFi Plus supports "up to 9216 kbps" along with Dolby Atmos, Sony 360 Reality Audio, and other formats.

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