TIDAL Is Going to Let Indie Artists Upload Their Music Directly

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TIDAL is coming off the download high that their celebrity-ttudded launch gave them, but they aren’t fading into obscurity just yet.

Comparing TIDAL and Spotify is like comparing In-N-Out and McDonald’s. They’re both selling the same thing, but one of them costs a little bit more and is a little higher quality. McDonald’s is convenient and easy, but In-N-Out is a different experience. You feel a little better about going to In-N-Out, but you still feel kind of guilty either way.

If TIDAL’s plan to bring indie artists on board works it could be a game changer.

In an interview with Smashd, TIDAL’s “Chief Information Officer” Vania Schlogel describes some of the service’s new features:

TIDAL X brings fans direct access to artists. It’s the program that had Jay-Z calling fans directly (as 25+ people were getting fired), and it feels gimmicky and useless.

TIDAL Rising gives smaller and indie artists some real estate in the app. Spotify already has similar features, but they integrate rising artists across the app.

The most exciting new feature is TIDAL Discovery.

Indie artists will be able to upload their music directly to the service without third party distributors. Schlogel said she wants to remove “blockades” that prevent artists from having control. TIDAL will also provide an artist dashboard with streaming data.

This feature is slowly rolling out, but they expect all artists to eventually have dashboard access.

TIDAL is also paying all labels 62.5 percent. Schlogel says:

“I think indie artists who come on to Tidal through their label can at least have the peace of mind that their label is not being paid less of a percentage just by virtue of being indie”

+Spotify Desperately Needs Another $400 Million…

The streaming service says they’re paying out 75 percent of revenue to labels and publishers. That leaves the company with 25 percent revenue, and they say they’re losing money right now.


Nina Ulloa covers breaking news, tech, and more: @nine_u

27 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    This is great. But saying they want to do it, and doing it are two very different things.

    The infrastructure they’ll need to do this at scale will have to be massive. Distros and aggregators still exist for that reason alone…

  2. Anonymous

    Sounds like a legal headache. You can’t let just anyone upload music. Making sure they are actually the copyright holder is no easy task.

    • Paul Resnikoff

      Apple could have done this 10 years ago, and they already do it in areas like apps of course. But your point about maintenance is critical. Apple reviews all the app submissions; music is an entirely different beast.

    • GGG

      It’s a headache sure, but don’t these services already do this? When someone pays Tunecore or whoever to distribute, all you do is click a box saying you own the copyright. They just trust you. I’m assuming at least some of the stores/services still double check when the distributors deliver them content, no, or do they just trust Tunecore’s trust haha? I could be wrong, I’ve just always assumed. I mean, we hear horror stories about people stealing/renaming songs, usually instrumentals, so it’s certainly not foolproof, but there’s got to be some department of content control, right? I hope…?

      • JTVDigital

        This is indeed extremely risky. They’ll end up with loads of copyright infringing and low quality content, which could harm the overall ‘premium’ positioning of the service. Not sure it’s the most clever idea to do this.

        @GGG not sure how TuneCore deals with it, but what we do is the following: every release (album / single) upload is checked via a quality control process. As soon as we detect something ‘suspicious’ in terms of copyright, we block it and ask the client (artist / label) to provide with a proof of ownership and/or a license (in case of a cover song for example). If they fail in responding or supplying such proof, the content remains blocked and never gets delivered to iTunes, etc.
        This happens quite frequently (several times per week).
        Most distributors don’t do this however, and just ‘trust’ their clients after they confirm they own the content.
        But even when you set up some safeguards and check everything, there will always be content looking ‘ok’ / legit but will be taken down and claimed for copyright infringement afterwards, usually by major record labels who have the resources to scan the stores and detect potentially infringing content.
        So yes, if Tidal do this (allowing anybody upload content) they will need some kind of control team.

        • Yep

          They could just have insurance against any claims.

          I know Spotify will always pass claims straight to the label/distributor. Also, won’t the safe harbour rule kick in here? Isn’t this UGC?

          • JTVDigital

            An insurance covering the risk of several copyright-related disputes per day/week? Does not sound realistic.

            Services like iTunes, Spotify and others pass the claims to the distributors who pass the claims to their clients.

            In the case of direct upload to Tidal you’d avoid the “pass to distributor” step but the end result would be the same, a massive number of copyright infringing content being uploaded directly in a legal streaming service.
            And we’re not even talking about quality (Tidal is supposed to serve “high resolution” audio as part of the premium plan), it is extremely easy to create fake HD audio files and lure the automated QA processes checking files’ properties.
            So Tidal would need to implement both technical and human control for avoiding copyright infringement and low quality content uploads.

          • steveh

            Guys perhaps you could enlighten me.

            Is Jay Z inviting indie artists to bypass their aggregator/distributor and sign direct with Tidal?

            Or are the aggregators putting their full content on Tidal?

          • steveh

            Sorry I’ve been a bit dim.

            Aspiro = Tidal….. I see Orchard delivery to Aspiro.

  3. dr_after

    I don’t think that using virtual distro is such PITA. To be honest, I gladly pay 10 dollars for my distro service, upload to 7-8 shops and control stats on one page. Uploading directly to Tidal? No, I would prefer that Tidal was added to my distro service offer 🙂 Nowadays, we, musicians, have too many places that we need to cover in the net, why to bother with another one?

    Of course, it would be nice addition, but I think that it also could kill Tidal – quality of content could become horrible.

  4. malini

    Won’t the indie artist face copyright and licensing issues?
    Will this be like an audio version of YouTube?

  5. Stark Hazard

    Wrong wrong wrong! I never feel guilty eating In-N-Out. (:

  6. Jeff Robinson

    Dear Ms. Schlogel,

    When will Tidal pay back royalties from streams under the previous TidalHifi business?

    Best Regards,
    Indie Artists EVERYWHERE

  7. Anonymous

    Great a place to upload all my hundreds of GarageBand experiments.

  8. Jorge Brea - Symphonic

    Aside of the legal headaches associated, what benefit does an artist have here if their platform can’t draw in any subscribers? I don’t see artists with their limited budgets wanting to spend the time to do this themselves for pennies.

  9. GGG

    The uploading will be free or very cheap, I imagine. Also, you can upload songs to sites in like 30 seconds, if even that. Can’t imagine this would be any different.

    • Jeff Robinson

      Great to charge the artist to upload too as it will off-set the royalty costs. Likely, the majority of the money will go to major label artists in their ‘collective’.

      Likely, as with the Google model that lets you do so, it will be too complex of a process which will cause the typical artist to NOT distribute their music to Tidal.

      Further, it is likely the artist will be asked to NOT play their own music on the service if they are able to upload directly to the site.

  10. Change job?

    Uploads seem horribly slow? I did some uploads through my distributor the 5. Still is not on the service.

    I also have released an indie trance album of very high quality, from one who originally was there and did trance in the early 90s. With custom DSP on the master.

    Streaming services are definately an entire debate in itself, the poverty is felt by most, and the desperation by some in corporate whoring, and schizophrenic free mushrooms is evident. Ultimately to the point, that such things are not feasible, and there is nothing there for any sensible person.


  11. R.P.

    Again, showing that they are completely out of touch. Too much bad music uploaded directly from indie artists is even worse.

  12. Anon

    There are very good reasons that services don’t allow artists and smaller labels to upload assets and metadata. This does indeed seem like a poorly thought-through gimmick, it could cause them some very expensive headaches

    • Anonymous

      Okay, how about this model:

      We’ll let you upload your Ep for $49. We’ll also enable an artist streaming account wherein we’ll allow you stream the exact value of your subscription rate plus the distribution fee.

      The artist won’t be able to play their music beyond the value of that cost.

      For the artist, this is a promotion system. Pay the distribution fee, then the subscription and see if you can get your music to chart, like you can with Rdio and Rhapsody. An artist wouldn’t be able to take it too far because the tracks would be shut down once they reach their cost threshold. Everyone plays on the same page of the book then. Songs that actually garner attention and then get listened to more because they are good, subsequently get played by more people- who add to the pool of royalties.

      Basically, the artist would be given a promotional kitty and know in advance that if they want to do the work of streaming their own material, THEN they might have some effect on the amount of spins they would get IF their music is good.

      So for $49.99 +$9.99, then an artist can ‘promote’ their music on the site up the $59.98 threshold. Cheaper than paying $2500 per P1 commercial radio station and not getting anything in return, no?

      • Anon

        Some interesting ideas there.

        I was actually thinking more about the problems that poor quality metadata and assets can cause, both in and out. I defy anyone to make an indie artist-proof system. 🙂

  13. anon

    awesome can’t wait to upload the beatles catalogue on these mongoloids.

  14. Tcooke

    Sounds good. Will they be allowing aggregators as well, or cutting them out of the loop?

  15. Luke Freeman

    Any time you just let people upload whatever music they want, you are going to run into problems with major labels, copyright infringement, etc. Look at all the problems that SoundCloud is having RIGHT NOW. And the sad part is SoundCloud’s founders literally gave the keys to the major labels to let them remove ANY content they wanted, no questions asked.

    Honestly, the easiest way I’ve come across to sell music directly is either through ADED.US Music Distribution or BandCamp. Otherwise, you’re just going to get lost in the sea of music on these streaming services begging for fractions of a penny.