Always the Tidal, Never the Spotify

Photo: AP
Photo: AP

Tidal—the streaming bastard child Jay Z wishes he could forget—is reportedly losing so much money it can’t even pay its bills on time.

Presented as an artist-friendly alternative to streaming services like Spotify, Tidal was supposed to be a haven for musicians; at least according to its marketing materials, which touted higher royalties and exciting exclusives for subscribers. In practice, all the good stuff ends up on YouTube anyway, and according to reports, anyone whose name doesn’t rhyme with fiancé isn’t getting paid.


The Norwegian business outlet Dagens Naeringsliv analyzed Tidal’s holding company, Aspiro AB, which reportedly lost $28.23 million last year. Since Jay Z bought the company in 2014, the outlet reports, it’s racked up “around a hundred payment default records,” and currently owes $438,000 in unpaid bills.

Close to 1,000 independent record companies also say they’re still waiting on royalty payments dating back to January. Tidal told the paper that it has been paying the royalties and blamed an intermediary company called Phonofile for the delay. But according to Dagens Naeringsliv, the company only provided evidence of one payment made this year to Phonofile, which also says Tidal neglected to send monthly streaming reports. The day after the reporter called to ask for comment, Tidal made two more large payments to the royalty company.

A coincidence, probably.

Former Gawker news editor

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I’ve paid my $10/month to Google Music for the last few years because the service is great, the streaming quality is better than most, and I get ad-free YouTube included. I gave Tidal a shot, but it streamed so choppily in the car that I gave up.