Tidal vs. Spotify: Pros and Cons
Giving up on Spotify’s Weekly Discover and my yearly Wrapped wasn’t an easy choice. But I had the opportunity of trying Tidal and this is a summary of the aspects I’ve found out after a few weeks of switching from Spotify to Tidal.
How are they alike?
Both services are music streaming services where you can personalize lists, download tracks or albums, and get recommendations based on algorithms.
In terms of pricing, they are very much alike as for the premium subscription, but do consider that there might be promotions depending on the country.
For example, I travel a lot and noticed that Spotify costs €9,99 in Spain, while in Mexico it costs half. Of course, this is just considering exchange rates, while prices are really set according to purchase parity power.
Since I’m currently working from Mexico I thought I could save that money, however to switch to a local plan you have to pay with a local card. Tidal didn’t mind the origin of my card, so voilà.
Tidal registration is simple and you can pay with Paypal. This is really not very different from opening an account on any other platform or online service. I used Spotify for two years and can’t honestly remember how the registration process was.
After the registration, an artist mosaic opens as you click the ones you like to more options within that genre. However, as you clicked I couldn’t find the way to go back to the “main results”. I didn’t take screenshots of that process on my phone, but this is an example it took from TechUpLife to show you:
I had the wrong impression that albums or artists would not be available as were on Spotify, that was actually my real “test”. However I looked for some basics for me like Christian Loffler, Silversun Pickups, or The Smashing Pumpkins and they all were, so cool. In fact, Tidal has over 60 million tracks, which is 10 million more than Spotify.
Mainstream news or trending artists will show up as long as the app hasn’t understood your music tastes. Armando Manzanero (a very popular Mexican singer and songwriter) had died that week, so it appeared on top of the Home. Armando Manzanero, by the way, is an artist my grandmother would listen to.
How are they different?
Freemium vs. Paid plans
Spotify is free if you can tolerate ads or having limitations on how many times you can shuffe or skip tracks. Something I just can’t. With Tidal you have to pay to access the catalog in either of their plans.
The main difference is that Tidal offers a catalog in Hi-Fi, which is basically the reproduction audio quality. I am not an audio tech whatsoever, I don’t think I could even differentiate between one quality or the other, so definitively this was not my decision parameter.
Podcasts vs. Video
Spotify is definitively better on podcasts currently, with way wider availability. People are consuming lots of audio and brands start looking at podcasts for advertising. So, as a result, streaming platforms are paying podcasters loads of money for exclusive distribution rights.
On the contrary, Tidal so far is focusing also on video. This is a fun feature if you can spare some time to watch videos while listening to music (not something I normally do, unless I’m on YouTube). However, I came across this exclusive cover version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” that I’m hooked with as I write this post.
Spotify is way more social than Tidal. On Tidal you can’t see what your contacts are listening to. Not to mention that before, I used to share links to songs with my friends. Now I have to send them screenshots.
Other Tidal advantages could rely on the fact that Jay-Z is a co-owner and through his influence, artists like Beyonce or Rihanna publish their releases first on Tidal. Jay-Z himself removed his library from Spotify. If you are a pop-mainstream listener, this could def be a plus. This doesn`t mean, though, that Spotify could have other premiers.
Import Playlists & Other Features
Spotify has the Weekly Discovery feature, which generates a curated list of 30 songs delivered each Monday. This is, by the way, the reason I switched to Tidal (I’ll come to this later on my impressions).
You can import playlists to Tidal.
You can’t “dislike” a song on Tidal. In Spotify, you can, and they ask whether you’d like to dislike only that song, the album, or the artist. I used this feature a lot on Spotify to keep reggaeton out of the algorithm suggestions of new music.
You can’t switch devices, laptop and mobile phone, as you can easily do in Spotify. This is a bit of a first-world headache when sometimes I get tired of wearing the headphones and I want to change to the laptop’s audio. BUT…
The app’s website stats this as of today: At the moment, you can’t control your desktop app, but this feature is coming soon!
My impressions as heavy user
I decided to try Tidal because I listen to white noise during the night to help me sleep. Eventually, that those hours and hours of streaming soothing sounds of airplane cabins, or waterfalls from the Amazon rainforest would take up all of the recommendations that Spotify was giving me as “new music” every week.
My Top 2020 Track was Fall Asleep Noise. How lousy is that?
After a week or so on Tidal, I had mixes already of the music I had been listening to. They are also divided as in Spotify by genres (Mix, 1, 2, 3, etc.). User experience and layout is very very similar. I repeat, you can’t dislike a song, so I feel this is delaying Tidal curate the right picks for me.
Home is showing Eladio Carrion. I clicked to check what that was and it is a reggaeton artist, god knows how much I dislike it. So clearly Tidal’s algorithm hasn’t got to know me that much, yet.
Both Spotify and Tidal seem to want me to listen to reggaeton no matter what.
Do you have other comments on your experiences using both Tidal and/or Spotify? Share me your toughs on email: firstname.lastname@example.org