Miskatonic University Press

Tidal: no better


Last year in February, after Rdio died, I wrote about how I’d moved to Tidal. I had a list of things I hoped Tidal would do. Almost a year later, it hasn’t done any of them. In fact I think some things have gotten worse.

My list was:

  • Goes social.
  • Lets me follow labels.
  • Remembers my listening history.
  • Integrates the app and the web client; being able to control what’s playing on the web version from the app is great when you have a cat on your lap.
  • Improves the tool tips on links so that when I hover over a song or album it gives full information.
  • Adds recommendations based on my listening.
  • Lets me personalize what it thinks I might like, by letting me plus and minus tracks it suggests.
  • Lets me add albums and playlists to queues.

None of those things are yet possible. Tidal is still pushing music on me that it should know I’m not interested in, and at the same time it’s making it hard for me to find new music by not even telling me when bands I’ve marked as favourites have a new album out. Plus, the listing of new releases mixes up actually new albums with recently new ones I’ve marked as favourites: if a new metal album came out three weeks ago and I flagged it, I don’t want to see it this week when I want to poke through the new metal releases.

Tidal’s added “movies” and shows, but I don’t care about any of them.

It doesn’t seem to have done anything to improve the Android client.

A good number of new(ish) albums aren’t available on Tidal. I don’t know if they’re available in Spotify or other streaming services, or what the licensing problems are, but I don’t have the sense Tidal is doing anything to improve the situation.

On top of all that, in the web client, if I’m in the middle of listening to some tracks and then add an album to the play queue, it doesn’t append the album to what’s already queued, it starts to play it after the current song is over. If the queue accumulates a bunch of stuff I don’t want to hear, if I tell Tidal to clear the queue it stops playing the song I’m listening to.

Searching in the Android client depends on how your order the search terms:

booker 204
booker 204
204 booker
204 booker

(“204” from Tex Book Tenor is absolutely smoking. Like I said in the previous post, which I took from my Rdio review: “Post bop that takes off like a rocket and swings hard, with blistering solos and tasty eights at the end. And recorded by Rudy Van Gelder!”)

On the good side, I like Tidal for the same three reasons I chose it:

  • It works in the browser, no proprietary binary required.
  • It’s CD quality. That’s worth extra money each month.
  • Artists get more royalties. That’s also worth the extra money.

I’m still prepared to spend $20 for access to all of that music, even with the current interface.

Still, I expect Tidal will get sold or go under. I don’t see how it can stay a going concern if it doesn’t improve. And as soon as something even a little bit better comes along, I’ll move without any regret. I’ll lose nothing.