Whether you’re looking for the next hit song, tuning into your favorite artist or curating your own playlist, the streaming platform you choose for all your music escapades is an important factor in the experience.
There are two mainstream platforms that currently dominate the industry: Spotify and Apple Music. Despite the popularity of these services, they may not be providing the best overall experience for either the artist or the listener.
Alternative platforms such as Tidal and Bandcamp specifically focus on the relationship between the artist and the listener to ensure the music is delivered exactly how the artist intended. Tidal and Bandcamp’s goals are to create a connection between the artist and listener, whereas platforms like Spotify only caters to the needs of the listener.
Tidal is quite similar to Spotify and Apple Music in the sense that it runs the same: people pay a fee and stream music. However, Bandcamp is different in the sense that it is an online record store where the artist has full control. The artists create their music and then upload it onto Bandcamp at a price they deem their music is worth. So, although Bandcamp is unique to other streaming platforms, it caters to artists the same way Tidal does.
One unique feature Tidal provides is exclusive artist content such as access to live streams, live shows, concert tickets and meet-and-greets. Because of this consideration, some artists choose to release their music exclusively to Tidal for months at a time before it gets released elsewhere. Bandcamp also offers live streams for their artists and even offers a “merch table” where artists can sell their merch directly to their fans.
A big factor in choosing a streaming platform is the pricing. Tidal offers a free listening experience as well as two other tiers: Tidal Hifi for $9.99 a month for the individual and $19.99 a month for the individual, with 50% discounts for students.
Spotify also has a free experience as well as multiple tiers including Spotify Premium Student for $4.99 a month and Spotify Premium individual for $9.99 a month. Apple Music does not provide a free listening option, however, it does have a three-month free trial before listeners choose a plan for either $9.99 a month or $4.99 a month for students.
All platforms also offer family bundles and other special deals. For example, Tidal has military and first responder options, Spotify has a duo option and Apple Music has an Apple One option.
Bandcamp works a little differently — the artist does choose the price per single or album, but Bandcamp always lets listeners preview a song before purchasing it. The standard per single is $1, and for an album, it is $7.
Keeping these prices in mind, it is important to note where the funds are actually going. According to an article by SoundGuys, a publication dedicated to helping audio consumers make the best buying decisions, “not only does [Tidal] pay its artists more per stream than Spotify, it also has in-depth credit pages that outline who contributed to the music and how.”
Similarly, Bandcamp acknowledges that they only profit when the artists are successful, so they include a pie chart on their about page that breaks down how the money is allocated. Tidal pays 100% of its revenue to its artists directly, Bandcamp pays 82% and Spotify pays 70%.
Choosing a streaming platform for all your music endeavors requires careful thought and consideration. There are pros and cons to all platforms, but Tidal and Bandcamp center around their artists and connecting them to their audience.