Tidal is rolling out a new feature that lets you act as a DJ and let your friends listen to your selections. The feature, called Live, is available to both HiFi ($9.99 per month) and HiFi Plus ($19.99 per month) subscribers to the streaming service.
This feature doesn’t work like Spotify’s group sessions, which allow all participants to control the song queue. Tidal’s Live feature puts one person in charge of song selection (the initiator) who runs the playlist. The Block-owned company has been testing it under the moniker “DJ” since last December, and now it’s available to all users.
Users can create sessions while listening to any song or playlist by clicking the Live button in the top right corner. They can name the session and share the link with their friends. Those friends can click start listening to music if they are paying subscribers. If not, Tidal will ask them to join with a free trial.
Note that whatever is in the currently playing queue of the session creator becomes part of the session. But they can edit this list to make it more relevant to the topic of the session if needed. Tidal noted that the number of listeners in a session is the number of streams per song. So if five people are listening to a track, it counts as five streams.
However, there is a caveat. You can only create and listen to a session in your registered country. So you can’t have a listening party with your cross-border friends.
Tidal says you’ll see a variety of live sessions on the homepage, including from the company’s curators and your friends. The company said it is “learning and testing” the section to make it more relevant to the user.
“With Live we wanted to do a few things. We believed that Music is something that should be easily shared. We wanted to create something for your family’s designated DJ or taster friend who can easily show off their taste buds. Think of this as a tech-enabled version of plugging in an aux cable at a party,” Agustina Sacerdot, global head of product at Tidal, told TechCrunch. (Although the aux analogy is great, I’m not sure people still relate to it since our phones don’t have headphone jacks anymore.)
As for the social features, users can only see how many people are tuned into the session. But there are no features like feedback or comments. Sacerdote said the streaming service is “envisioning” features such as responding to a DJ’s selection with a thumbs up or thumbs down.
In addition to releasing the film, Tidal said it focuses on supporting emerging artists. The company thinks of these artists as small businesses and wants to help them manage these things. It builds on Block’s experience helping small businesses and wants to build on that for artists. Although Tidal hasn’t specified what tools it’s making.
“We were very committed to this idea of helping artists better manage and grow their businesses, which are effectively their fans. So you can imagine a world where Live becomes the tool by which artists manage and connect with their audience,” Sacerdot said.
When TechCrunch asked if these tools would include things like trading, tickets, or NFTs, Tidal said “all of those things are not out of the question,” but didn’t elaborate on whether it plans to release any of them. In February, Spotify began testing NFT-backed playlists with select artists and crypto projects.
Last month, Tidal shut down its direct artist payment program in favor of an emerging artist project called Tidal Rising. The company committed $5 million to the project, and the money will be used to host workshops and provide artists with studio recordings and promotional materials.