What is TIDAL and how to upload your music free

Image Credit: TIDAL

Everything you need to know about TIDAL, what it offers for artists, and how to get your music on there.

TIDAL is one of the most popular music streaming services in the world. Setting itself apart from the competition with a higher quality experience from the start, TIDAL is a favourite amongst audiophiles. In this article we’ll explore all there is to know about the music platform.

We cover what makes TIDAL unique, how artists can upload their music there (for free!), how to market your music once it’s live on TIDAL, and answer the most common questions about TIDAL. Jump to the section you’re interested in below or start from the beginning.


Upload HD music to TIDAL for free

routenote stores distribution

As an artist or label, you can get your music on TIDAL’s platform easily and at no extra cost by creating a free account at www.routenote.com. We offer free music distribution to the world for artists everywhere, breaking down the boundaries to reaching listeners and fans wherever they might be.

You can upload unlimited releases through RouteNote for free and choose between MP3 and FLAC uploads, allowing you to upload your music in high quality to TIDAL’s audiophile listeners. Uploading is simple, we’ll show you how:

  1. Sign up or log-in at www.routenote.com
  2. Select ‘Create New Release’
  3. Add your audio files, artwork, and add all the metadata of your music
  4. Select the stores you want and the territories you want your music available
  5. Decide whether to upload on Free (keep 85% of revenues) or Premium (keep 100% of revenues)
  6. Complete your release and our team will check it over and send it to your chosen stores!

Free or Premium music distribution

With RouteNote, it’s entirely your choice whether you want to upload your music for free or pay for our Premium offering. This allows you to make the best choice for your music and you can upgrade your release to Premium at any time if things change.

Free music distribution: Uploading for free means you face no risk of losing your money if you don’t get enough streams to make your money back. No financial commitments leave you free to do what’s best for your music as it lands on stores and you see how listeners respond to it.

  • Keep 85% of all your streaming revenue
  • Upload unlimited releases to all stores
  • Monthly streaming statistics and data reports
  • Automatically uploaded to any new stores we partner with
  • Upgrade to Premium at any time

Premium music distribution: We offer some of the best Premium rates in music distribution that allow artists to keep all of their revenues when the streams start picking up. It’s easy to switch between Free and Premium at any time on every release, giving artists and labels full control over what to do with their music and allowing them to react in real-time.

  • Keep 100% of all your streaming revenue
  • Monthly streaming statistics and data reports
  • Automatically uploaded to any new stores we partner with
  • Fast moderation of your releases
  • Switch between Free and Premium at any time

The history of TIDAL

TIDAL is famous for being the music streaming service owned by Jay-Z. A company named Aspiro owned two separate music companies: WiMP (Norway, Denmark, Germany, and Poland) and TIDAL (US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg). At the start of 2015, the two music services were bought by a company indirectly owned and controlled by Jay-Z, taking TIDAL and WiMP into Jay-Z’s ownership and beginning its evolution to the music service we have today.

The purchase saw the two music services combined into one, becoming simply TIDAL. They relaunched the service bringing along a star-studded line-up to reveal that TIDAL was “artist owned”, introducing Jay-Z, BeyoncéRihannaKanye WestNicki MinajDaft PunkJack WhiteMadonnaArcade FireAlicia KeysUsherChris MartinCalvin Harrisdeadmau5Jason Aldean and J. Cole as owners of TIDAL.

Image credit: Jamie McCarthy/Getty

At the start of 2017, TIDAL integrated Master Quality Audio (MQA) streaming into their platform. They became the first music streaming platform to offer MQA and became leaders in high-fidelity music streaming, long before competitors like Apple Music and Deezer introduced HD streams.

Most recently, in 2021 Square took an 80% stake in TIDAL to become a majority shareholder and help make the big decisions with the music streaming service. Square, run by ex-Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, have put ‘tools’ at the head of their target for the next step in TIDAL’s evolution. Dorsey says that artist tools including analytics and data will be a big goal for TIDAL moving forward.


What makes TIDAL unique?

TIDAL were the very first music streaming service to offer MQA (Master Quality Audio) to listeners around the world. They helped to pioneer on-demand, high-fidelity music through their streaming service with a focus on high quality music.

Their artist-owned service came at a steeper price thanks to their high quality offering, but also because of their artist-focus. The service promised to pay more to the average artist per stream than their competitors and to this day still offers some of the most generous streaming rates for music played on TIDAL. They’ve recently introduced a user-centric payment system that promises to pay artists across their service more fairly based on their listeners.

Image credit: TIDAL

TIDAL’s exclusive work with some of the world’s most famous artists has given them exclusive access to content in the past. Launches of albums like Jay-Z’s 4:44 and Beyoncé’s visual album for Lemonade were made available exclusively through TIDAL at first. TIDAL also have an exclusive list of Prince albums thanks to their partnership before his death.

TIDAL are also one of the few streaming services to offer video content built into their apps. With a range of music videos, exclusive concert streams, artist documentaries, and even films; TIDAL offers something extra for fans to delve into.


How much is TIDAL?

TIDAL offers two paid subscriptions for users to choose from, allowing listeners to pay a standard price for standard music streaming or a higher price for high-fidelity audio quality. TIDAL recently added a brand new free streaming tier, allowing users to create an account and listen to standard quality music for free. NOTE: As of writing, TIDAL Free is only available in the US.

Here’s exactly what listeners can sign up for with TIDAL:

  • Free: Ad-supported playback with limited skips
    • Sound quality up to 160 kbps
    • Over 80m songs
    • Curated playlists
  • HiFi: $9.99 per month. All of the above, plus:
    • Ad-free listening
    • Sound quality up to 1411 kbps
    • Offline support
    • Track and share your listening habits
    • 350k videos
  • HiFi Plus: $19.99 per month. All of the above, plus:
    • Sound quality up to 9216 kbps with Dolby Atmos, Sony 360 Reality Audio
    • Direct Artist Payouts and Fan-Centered Royalties – giving the artists you stream the most more royalties
Image credit: TIDAL

Users can sign up for a free trial that lasts for a month to decide whether it’s the service for them. There are also discounts for family subscriptions of multiple listeners, and straight discounts for military and first-responders signing up.


What’s on TIDAL?

TIDAL offers over 50 million songs in high quality and for years their high-fidelity offering of tracks has been a huge draw for audiophiles and music lovers. Whilst TIDAL offer a large number of albums and tracks in Master Quality Audio, not every album is available in this specialised format. TIDAL also offer a range of Dolby Atmos tracks, providing what they proclaim as the best quality music available with “moving audio” that provides an around the room experience.

TIDAL offers a number of exclusive albums that aren’t available on other services. In recent years streaming exclusives have been pretty universally hated on by fans, artists, and labels. As such there aren’t really many exclusives left, certainly not major releases by artists.

There is however a whole range of exclusive (and non-exclusive) video content available on TIDAL including music videos, movies, TV shows, documentaries, recordings of live shows, interviews, and video podcasts. Their content ranges from exclusive interviews and insiders with artists to feature films looking at music and specific artists.

TIDAL have been known to stream exclusive content live on their platform. Their TIDAL X experiences see them arrange exclusive concerts for subscribers in the area and have included artists like Migos, Migual, YG, and Kehlani. One of the more notable shows saw iconic electronic producer deadmau5 take the stage with a full orchestral backing and is now available to stream on the platform.

There is a unique Track Edit feature which allows users to chop up and even change the tempo of certain tracks. This can be perfect for tracks with lengthy intros or annoying spoken word sections that listeners want to cut out to keep their playlist a steady stream of music content.

There is a FLAC store on TIDAL that allows users who want to purchase a high quality album to keep to buy and download it in FLAC format straight from their platform.

TIDAL offers a unique ‘My Activity‘ feed to listeners which shows who they’ve been listening to. This section allows artists to see where their money is going, for Hi-Fi Plus users whose payments will be forwarded to artists under their new UCPS system.


TIDAL for Artists

High-fidelity music uploads

You can upload unlimited FLAC files with RouteNote, meaning that your high quality music uploads can go worldwide with ease. We accept FLAC format on both Free and Premium uploads, so there’s no reason you can’t put your music out in high quality for the world to hear.

Export your tracks in FLAC audio files to retain more audio data and provide a better quality experience to listeners when they play your music. Uploading to TIDAL means that users can use their high-fidelity equipment to stream your music in the best possible quality.

You can also upload to our other partners offering high-fidelity streaming, like Qobuz and Apple Music.


Make money from your music on TIDAL

As soon as your music is live on TIDAL it will earn money with every stream. There is no definitive streaming rate for listens on TIDAL as each play is different depending on whether the listener is a paying subscriber or a free listener and where they are listening from.

The latest data shows that a play on TIDAL earns on average $0.0128 which is significantly more than many other streaming services.

TIDAL claim that “up to 10% of your subscription is directed to the artists you listen to the most” on a Hi-Fi Plus subscription. This means that even on a pro-rata system, a listeners most streamed artists are being prioritised with their payment. For a $19.99 Hi-Fi Plus subscription, this means that up to $2 of a user’s subscription is going to the artists they actually listen to the most.

At the start of 2022 TIDAL implemented a user-centric payment system (UCPS) for revenues paid out from listens of Hi-Fi plus users. This means that the pay-out to artists comes directly from what the listener has paid and is based on the percentage each artist makes up in that users’ listens each month. Many have touted UCPS as a fairer system that benefits smaller artists with dedicated fanbases who listen to them a lot.


Track your streaming statistics on TIDAL

When you upload your music through RouteNote, you will get monthly statistics added to your account showing all of your streaming and download data across all of the stores you’ve distributed to. We’ll collect your performance in easy to see charts and tables so that you can see at a glance how well your music is doing and where it’s getting popular.

We will add full, detailed reports when we upload statistics that allow you to dive deep inside your music performance and discover the stores where it is making an impact. These are all downloadable from your account.

We release statistics each month, 45 days after the end of the month. This means that streams earned in January would be available on March 15th in your RouteNote account. Payments will be made between the 15th and 20th of each month to your linked payment profile, once your account has reached the minimum threshold of $50.

Unfortunately TIDAL do not have an integrated artist platform like Spotify for Artists that artists and labels can use for real-time statistics. At the moment, artists can only view their statistics once they have been released with their distributor and added in to their account.


How to claim your TIDAL artist page: Customise your artist profile

Once your music is live on TIDAL you want your artist profile to represent you as accurately as possible. Your artist profile is where listeners can find all of your music on TIDAL and acts as a hub for you and your releases.

You can easily add a profile picture that displays on your artist profile and a short biography that explains who you are and what you do for new listeners to read and get to know you.

If you have uploaded your music through RouteNote then you can edit your artist profile by sending us an email at support@routenote.com with the following:

  • A high resolution JPEG format image that you want as your artist profile photo – 1500 x 1500 size and 72 dpi at least, and no bigger than 10MB in size
  • A short artist bio – in plain text or a Word document (optional)
  • A link to your TIDAL artist page – so we know who you are and where to add your details

Note: You can upload an image up to 3000 pixels on the longest side, but if it is not square it will be cropped so it’s important to consider an image with a central focus.


Music Marketing

Set a release date and Pre-Save for your next TIDAL release

An example pre-save on PUSH.fm

One of the best ways to build hype for your new release is to have a release date set. It allows you to get fans ready for a specific launch date, creating excitement for the day to finally come. It also gives you a period with which you can get fans ready, ensuring as many people as possible are aware that you’re dropping.

When you upload your release with RouteNote, you can set a date in the future to start building hype for. For some stores, you can even specify the exact time that you want your release to go live so that your launch parties can have a precise countdown to your music becoming available.

With your release uploaded and ready in advance you can set up a Pre-Save through our friends at PUSH.fm. A Pre-Save allows listeners to save your upcoming release into their libraries and playlists before your music goes live so that they’re ready the minute your music goes lives to bring it into their queue!

Pre-Saves are available for releases uploaded in advance on Spotify, Apple Music, and Deezer. You can create an account at PUSH.fm for free to gain access to unlimited Pre-Saves.


Feature on TIDAL’s playlists

Playlists are radio for the modern age. They are the greatest source of music discovery for the hundreds of millions of listeners using music streaming services. Playlist curators have become cultural influencers and a placement in the right playlist can push an artist into the spotlight and propel their career.

Featuring in playlists is not just a way to get more streams on a track, it is a place for music fans to discover you and potentially fall in love with your music. A single placement on the right playlist could lead to thousands of lifelong fans.

The most important thing you can do to get your music featured on playlists is get your music uploaded in the first place. As soon as your music is live on a platform, anyone can add your tracks into their playlists whether they’re a user creating their own taste profiles or they’re a popular curator with millions of follows on their playlists.

You can pitch your music to be featured on RouteNote’s in-house playlists curated by our team when you upload your tracks through RouteNote. We have the perfect playlist for your music, with our different playlists covering energetic dance music and chilled house, chill hip-hop beats and relaxing cross-genre music, big-bass EDM and dubstep, and the finest cuts of rock, metal, and punk.

All of our playlists are available on TIDAL, so when you distribute your music to TIDAL through RouteNote you can apply to feature in our playlists there. Our playlists are also available on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Deezer, Qobuz, Anghami, and Claro-Musica.


One page for links to your music on all platforms

We’ve focused on TIDAL a lot in this article but, of course, you’re probably going to want to get your music on as many platforms as possible. With RouteNote you can upload your music to all of the most popular music streaming services in the world for free.

Once your music is on multiple platforms like TIDAL, Spotify, Apple Music, and any others you can create a Fan Link page to put all the links to your music in one place. This is the perfect solution for sharing your music, with just one link you can share your releases to your fans and they can click through to whichever platform they use.

You can create your own Fan Link page using our friends over at PUSH.fm. As a free user you can create up to 30 Fan Link pages to share anywhere – enough for fan linking all the singles from multiple albums! You can also upgrade to Premium on PUSH.fm for unlimited Fan Links.

Sign up to PUSH.fm for free to create your own Fan Link pages.


FAQs

Is TIDAL owned by Jay-Z?

TIDAL was bought by the Jay-Z controlled Project Panther Bidco Ltd. in January 2015 for $56.2 million. In April 2021, Square purchased an 80% majority stake in TIDAL making them the majority owners. Square is owned by Twitter founder and ex-CEO Jack Dorsey.

Who is the CEO of TIDAL?

Richard Sanders is the CEO of TIDAL, having taken over from Jeff Toig in 2017. Sanders is the fourth CEO of TIDAL and is currently the longest standing in the position.

How many subscribers does TIDAL have?

The last officially revealed numbers from TIDAL came in 2016 when they claimed to have over 3 million subscribers. This number has come into question as TIDAL have been accused of inflating numbers and it is also now data from over 5 years ago. It is likely quite a different number now.

How many devices does TIDAL allow on one account?

You can sign in to one account on up to three different offline devices which can all play music simultaneously. You can play music on your computer at the same time as your offline devices.

Do offline streams count on TIDAL?

Plays of downloaded music still count as streams and will be added when the device reconnects to the internet.

Do artists get more from TIDAL?

TIDAL are considered one of the higher paying streaming services, paying on average more than $0.01 or 1 cent per stream on a track.

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3 comments

    I have my music on Tidal by using ONErpm services, but its linked with other band and ITS NOT MY BAND.
    How can I fix this?

    Hi Luiz, you will need to get in touch with ONErpm’s support service to see if they can fix that for you.

    Hello !

    I haven’t uploaded my music to TIDAL with RouteNote (but with Amplitude Distribution / Audiosalad). In this case, how can I update my artist profile ?

    Nick

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