Tidal and Spotify are two of the most well-known and popular music streaming apps. Both of them have millions of songs and allow you to stream the latest releases and music in any genre on your Android, iPhone, iPad, or desktop.
However, which one is better? While some people are diehard Spotify fans, others swear by Tidal.
This article will help you understand which one is better for you. I will compare the two giants in track selection, podcast and video selection, discovery features, the latest releases, and sound quality.
Let us get into it.
Which platform has more tracks to listen to, Tidal or Spotify? Also, what type of music is available?
Are you limited to the most popular hits, or can you drill down and find niche music?
Tidal has over 70 million tracks you can listen to. That’s a lot!
In general, Tidal has some more exclusive tracks, including music from big-name artists who have deals with Spotify. Some popular new releases from famous artists will be available on Tidal before Spotify.
On the other hand, if you are looking for some more niche content, it won’t be as great as Spotify, as Spotify makes it easier for small-time artists to submit music.
Nevertheless, both of them have most of the popular songs in any genre. So, regardless of whether you use Tidal or Spotify, you will be able to find popular music in your favorite genre as well as a ton of less popular music.
Tidal pays artists around 3x times more than Spotify, so some artists work exclusively with Tidal instead of Spotify.
Also, Tidal has a program called Tidal X, which allows artists to connect with fans on Tidal for live shows, concerts, meet and greets, and more. For example, 1,500 Tidal members were given tickets to a concert held by Jay-Z and Beyonce.
Spotify also has over 70 million tracks. In terms of the number of tracks available, Tidal and Spotify are pretty similar.
For most people, there won’t be that much of a difference between Tidal and Spotify. However, if you are interested in a specific artist or specific niche music, either Tidal or Spotify might be better.
It would be impossible to tell you which one is better without knowing which artist or music genre you are interested in, so I’d suggest looking at both catalogs and searching for your favorite artist or music genre, so you can decide.
Some artists might only be available on Tidal, while Spotify often makes it easier to find specific subgenres, including subgenres specific to particular countries.
In this section, I will compare Spotify and Tidal in terms of exploration and discovery features. Which platform helps you discover new, interesting music you might be interested in, and which one has a better search function, Spotify or Tidal?
Tidal has something called Mixes For You, which features mixes and tracks based on your listening history. It also shows you Suggested New Tracks, which are suggested tracks based on your listening history.
In addition, it shows you Suggested New Albums, which are entire albums you might be interested in.
Scrolling further down, you will see Popular Playlists, which are playlists curated by Tidal that are currently trending. These playlists will be in the genres you like, featuring popular artists in those genres.
Scrolling even further, you will find Trending Playlists, which are playlists currently trending across Tidal right now in different genres. These playlists are usually created by Tidal, but some are created by popular artists like Jay-Z.
Jay-Z actually used to own a majority share in Tidal, which is why so much of his music, as well as music of artists he has close relationships to, appeared first on Tidal before Spotify. However, he has since sold his share to Jack Dorsey, CEO of Square and Twitter.
Scroll a bit further, and you will find the Tidal Rising playlists. These playlists include new, fresh releases from popular artists that Tidal thinks you will like.
For example, the app is showing me:
- Tidal Rising (general popular songs in many genres)
- Rising: R&B
- Rising: Hip Hop
- Rising: Dancehall/Reggae
- Rising: Folk
- Rising: Electronic
- Rising: Latin
- And many others
In other words, if you want to find the newest, freshest songs in a particular niche just released, scroll down to the Rising section and select the genre you want to listen to.
There is also a Charts section. This section features popular hits across Tidal and hits in specific genres.
For example, there are Tidal’s Top Hits, Viral Hits, Rap Hits, Country Hits, Rock Hits, and hits in many other genres. The Charts section is good if you want to listen to the most popular songs, regardless of when they were released.
In addition, the Charts section helps you find the Top 100 songs in different countries. Just click on the playlist for your country, such as Top 100 France, or Top 100 Italia (only some countries are shown).
The Explore page was decent, with the ability to find the top songs in genres like Country, Latin, Rock, Electronic, Gospel, and more. I also liked that you could search by mood, such as Focus, Relax, Workout, Romance, and more.
However, it did show some Featured items from artists such as Jay-Z, which I had no interest in. Be prepared to see some of these popular songs appearing often in the Explore page and suggested music sections, even if they’re not really your thing.
If you choose a specific genre, you will be shown popular tracks, albums, and artists. For example, if you click on Latin, you can choose specific categories such as Reggaeton or Latin Pop, Essential playlists, popular playlists, or top Latin artists like Becky G or Shakira.
Spotify has a weekly mix that includes new, weekly tracks related to genres and music you like. It’s called Discover Weekly, and it will include niche music you might like.
Other than that, there are six daily mixes, which change every day and include tracks from niches you are interested in. The Daily Mixes are pretty decent, with each mix focusing on a different genre or niche that you like.
I also liked the Release Radar playlist, which includes new releases from famous artists or niche artists you like. It helps you ensure you don’t miss a single release.
There will also be sections called “More Like [Song/Artist],” which will feature artists, albums, and tracks related to specific music you listened to.
Scrolling down a bit more, you will find The State of Music Today section, where you will find albums such as:
- Fresh Finds
- Hot Hits US
- Hot Country
- Hot [Genre]
Other sections you will find include “Based On Your Recent Listening,” which includes playlists you may like based on your listening history, and “Suggested Artists.”
There are also some playlists that include music you have actually listened to or like the most. For example, “On Repeat” includes songs you have been listening to repeatedly over the past month.
The Search page, like Tidal’s explore page, allows you to search by genre or mood. However, genres and moods are all mixed together, unlike Tidal, which separates the genre selection from the mood selection.
When you choose a genre, you can then select specific categories. For example, if you choose Latin, you can select from Latin Pop, Urban Latin, Latin Rock, and more.
Both Spotify and Tidal make it easy to discover new music.
Spotify might make it a bit easier to find niche music in specific genres and in your daily mixes, as opposed to showing you the same music from popular artists. However, each platform has its strong points when it comes to discovery and exploration features.
Until now, I’ve spoken about how Tidal and Spotify measure up in terms of music content.
What if you’re a podcast fan? Is Spotify or Tidal better?
Unfortunately, podcasts are not Tidal’s strong point. While there is a small selection of podcasts on Tidal, such as the Luis Jimenez Podcast and Not97, the overall selection is not really sufficient for podcast lovers.
Tidal is ultimately a platform for music and music videos, not podcasts. If you only need to listen to podcasts from time to time to take a break from music, and you are not that specific about which podcast you listen to, Tidal may be sufficient.
Spotify, on the other hand, has more than 2.6 million podcast titles from famous podcasts like The Joe Rogan Experience. However, in addition to more popular podcasts, there are also tons of niche podcasts, including podcasts in lesser spoken languages.
If podcasts are your thing, Spotify is the place to go. There are also a lot of exclusive podcasts on Spotify that you will not find anywhere else on the internet.
You can find popular podcasts by browsing the Charts section, browse the Fresh Finds, or look for podcasts by category. Categories include Comedy, News and Politics, Stories, Music, TV, Educational, Sports, Lifestyle and Health, and many others.
Which platform is better for watching music videos, Tidal or Spotify?
While Tidal loses to Spotify in terms of podcast content, it wins when it comes to music video content. There is an entire section on Tidal just for music videos.
In the Video section, you can view videos of live music performances, as well as new music videos that just came out. Right now, as I am writing this article, some of the newest music videos include:
- Bad Habits by Ed Sheeran
- Reckless by Madison Beer
- Lose My Mind by Anthony Ramos
There are also documentaries you can view, which can be as short as 5-10 minutes long or well over an hour long. These documentaries often touch upon popular and interesting topics related to the music industry, such as the documentary Father of Asahd: The Album Experience, by DJ Khaled.
That particular documentary takes you behind the scenes and shows you how the album Father of Asahd was created.
You can also view Tidal’s original videos. These videos are available only on Tidal from Tidal artists.
Spotify now supports video content and documentaries. However, it just doesn’t come close to Tidal in terms of video content selection, and there is no Video section where you can watch all the latest music videos.
One of the reasons people tend to choose Tidal is because it promises lossless audio quality. Does Spotify offer any HiFi audio solutions, and which platform has better audio quality?
Tidal is generally considered to be superior when it comes to audio quality. There are actually two plans, and the more expensive Tidal plan will give you the best audio quality.
I will talk more about pricing later, but for now, suffice it to say that the Premium plan only gives you access to standard audio quality, at 320kbps.
The HiFi plan, on the other hand, gives you access to audio quality of up to 9216kbps. You have a few options on the premium plan:
- HiFi Audio: Streaming quality up to 1411kbps, or 16-Bit/44.1 kHz
- Master Audio: Streaming quality at up to 9216kbps, or 24-Bit/192 kHz
- 360 Reality Audio: An immersive audio experience available to all smartphone users, with any headphones
- Dolby Atmos Music: Also an immersive audio experience, but only for people with soundbars, TVs, and other equipment that is compatible with Dolby Atmos Music
You can choose between the different audio quality levels in the app. Not all tracks, however, will be compatible with Master Audio, 360 Reality Audio, or Dolby Atmos Music.
Nevertheless, many tracks are allowing you to get a full audiophile experience.
On Reddit, users tend to agree that Tidal offers better sound quality than Spotify. That is not astounding, considering that Spotify is a free platform, and its focus was never to provide lossless high fidelity sound quality, while Tidal does focus on that.
Here are just some of the comments on a Reddit thread titled, “Spotify vs Tidal, YOUR Experience?”
- “Tidal sounds WAY better than Spotify. The sound is just warmer, the mid’s are clearer, the bass feels deeper but crisp. Simply put, it doesn’t sound as muddy as Spotify.” (Vociferate)
- “Spotify sounds like c**p – period. No feature in the world will cover this.” (Letemeatpvc)
- “Yeah the audio quality is the biggest thing for me. Tidal has the best so far. What Spotify does to certain albums is not good.” (-guci00-)
- “I can confidently say HiFi sounds better than Spotify in a lot of cases.” (DorianSternlicht)
Of course, this will vary based on the type of music you listen to and the specific tracks you are listening to. For example, techno music on Spotify isn’t that bad.
Also, not all tracks on Tidal are eligible for Master Audio quality.
On the free Spotify plan, you will get 128kbit/s streaming quality on the web player. On a mobile phone or tablet, there are three settings:
- Low: Streaming at around 24kbit/s
- Normal: Streaming at around 96kbit/s
- High: Streaming at around 160kbit/s
You can also set it to automatic. If you do so, the sound quality will depend on your internet connection.
Of course, that is not as good as the quality available on Tidal, but we’re talking about free streaming here (Tidal doesn’t offer a free plan; more on that later).
If you have Spotify Premium, however, you can get streaming quality at up to 320kbit/s on mobile phones and tablets, which is equivalent to the quality you will get on the Tidal Premium plan (both of them cost the same in the US).
On the desktop player, however, streaming quality will only be 256 kbit/s, even with Spotify premium.
That’s all for music. For podcasts, the default on mobile phones is 96kbit/s, though you can change it to low quality to save data, and on the desktop player, it is 128kbit/s.
So, which platform wins in terms of audio quality? Tidal comes out as the winner here, but you really need a Tidal HiFi plan to enjoy the full benefits of it.
Let’s see if Spotify and Tidal allow you to download music for offline access.
Tidal lets you download music, videos, podcasts, and any kind of content for offline access, on any mobile phone or tablet that has the Tidal app.
You can use five different devices in offline mode and only one device in online mode at a time. For example, if your desktop is using Tidal in online mode, you can use Tidal in offline mode on your phones and tablets.
If you are on the free Spotify plan, you can only download podcasts. If you have Spotify Premium, you will be able to download music and videos as well.
You can download 10,000 songs on five devices each. You will have to use Spotify in online mode at least once a month to keep your downloaded songs.
The final section of this article will discuss pricing. Which platform is cheaper, and which offers a better value for money?
Unfortunately, Tidal does not have a free plan. It does have a very limited amount of free content, but it’s not much to really speak about, just a few free videos.
You will need to pay money to use Tidal, but there is a 30-day free trial for both the Premium plan and the HiFi plan. The two plans are as follows:
- Premium, at $9.99/month: This plan gives you access to standard sound quality at 320kbps).
- HiFi, at $19.99/month: This plan gives you access to a lot of tracks with HiFi music, Master Audio music, 360 Reality Audio, or Dolby Atmos Music. I explained more about the differences between them earlier in this article.
In addition, there are two family plans:
- Family Premium, at $14.99/month: This is the Premium plan for up to six people.
- Family HiFi, at $29.99/month: This is the HiFi plan for up to six people.
Finally, there are discounts available to students, military personnel, and first responders:
- For students, Premium costs $4.99/month and HiFi costs $9.99/month, with both plans being essentially half price
- For military personnel, Premium Costs $5.99/month and HiFi costs $11.99/month.
- For firefighters, EMTs, EMS, and police officers, Premium costs $5.99/month and HiFi costs $11.99/month.
Keep in mind that pricing does vary from country to country, and the above pricing information is only valid in the US. Also, student discounts are not available in all countries, and military and first responder discounts are only available in the US.
Check the products page for updated pricing information in your country.
Spotify, on the other hand, does feature a free plan. However, the free plan comes with certain limitations, such as:
- Ads at the beginning of some songs or playlists
- A limit of six skips per hour (after that, you can’t skip a song in a playlist)
- Only shuffle play for some playlists
- No ability to download music for offline access
- Lower quality audio
The premium plan removes those limitations and gives you other perks. It costs $9.99/month.
Here are some other plans:
- Duo, at $12.99/month: This plan is for couples. It allows two people to use it, and updates playlists with songs both like.
- Student, at $4.99/month: Students get a 50 percent discount.
- Family, at $15.99/month: This plan allows six people to use Spotify on the same account. It also allows parents to block explicit content. It also includes access to the Spotify Kids app.
Keep in mind that this is for the US, as prices do vary based on country, as does free trial availability. Check the Premium page for updated pricing information in your area.
|Curated Playlists Made For You||✓||✓|
|Good Podcast Selection||✗||✓|
|Good Music Video Selection||✓||✗|
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|Free Trial||✓||✓ (Not All Regions)|
|Discount For Students||✓||✓|
The answer to that depends on what you’re looking for. For most people, I would recommend Spotify, as it offers a free plan, has better family plan options, and offers a better podcast selection.
Indeed, most people won’t notice the difference between regular audio and lossless audio.
However, if you are an audiophile, and sound quality really matters to you, Tidal is a better choice, but do be prepared to pay more money.