Earlier this year, Jay Z dropped $56 million to purchase the Swedish technology company Aspiro, owner of two music services for aspirational listeners who appreciate the finer things in life, like lossless file streaming. Whereas shoddy services like Spotify and Rdio are always losing sound from the holes in their hobo file bindles, Aspiro’s high-end providers—WiMP and the newer TIDAL—lovingly fold their audio and ad-free music videos into the velvet purse of 16-bit FLAC files, expertly inserted into the discerning ears and eyes of audiophiles by digital butlers.
But of course, such premium service comes with a premium price. And TIDAL in particular is more expensive than the hoi polloi may be used to. At $19.99 per month, it’s nearly double the subscription prices of Spotify and Rdio—which should be enough to keep the proles out.
“This service is not for everybody,” company CEO Andy Chen told The Verge in October. “Spotify is for everybody. You don’t even have to pay! But for quality, you have to pay.” While Spotify freeloaders belly up to the streaming trough, shoving garbage, 320kpbs-quality audio into headphones so crusted with cannery grime and gizzard grease, they can’t tell the difference anyway, TIDAL users are pouring fizzy aural champagne into the flutes of their ear canals. They also enjoy high-definition music videos, “expertly curated” editorial content from Talkhouse, and its own Shazam-like service (which presumably not only identifies the song you’re looking for, but compliments you on your taste).
They’ll also enjoy the rarified experience of streaming Taylor Swift, who recently pulled her catalogue from Spotify in protest of its free-to-play on-demand structure, while still allowing it on subscription and mock-radio services like Beats and Rdio. And now it’s on TIDAL, which has all of Swift’s music (minus her most recent album) streaming to its current 17,000 subscribers, in the hopes that the lure of hearing ”Shake It Off” in high fidelity—along with the status conferred by paying to join Jay Z’s exclusive club of audiophiles—is enough to convert some of Spotify’s estimated 60 million users.
If you’d like to get a taste of the finer streaming life, TIDAL is currently offering a free seven-day trial. Just hook it up to whatever soup can and chicken wire contraption you’re using, and decide for yourself whether you’re ready to dream bigger and live better by giving Jay Z $19.99 a month.