Music streaming company TIDAL has now announced an expansion of its streaming services to Amazon Echo-branded and Alexa-enabled devices through a new Alexa Skill and an accompanying 30-day trial promotion. Getting started with either, as one might imagine, is fairly straightforward. Getting TIDAL enabled on any linked Alexa-enabled device requires that users navigate to the Amazon Alexa App on their smartphone and then to the "Skill & Games" section. A quick search for "TIDAL" will bring up the appropriate skill, which needs to be enabled before linking a TIDAL account. New subscribers can grab a 30-day trial during the sign-up process. From there, heading over to the "Settings" menu for the app, selecting "Music" and then "Choose default music service" will allow TIDAL to act as the go-to streaming service for connected Alexa or Echo devices. Then music can be discovered and played intuitively by genre, mood, album, artist, song title, or randomly, in addition to using voice commands for playback control. If TIDAL isn't set as the default, adding "on" or "from TIDAL" to the end of a command will instantiate the service.
Background: Of course, TIDAL isn't anywhere near the first music streaming service to appear on these particular devices. Amazon's own services, Pandora, and several others have already been there since very nearly the launch of the first Echo-branded smart speakers. With that said, this is a relatively big step forward for TIDAL. Initially launched back in 2014, the company has not had a smooth ride over the past several years. In fact, it was revealed back in May that the company had failed to pay its royalties due to record labels for approximately six months. Just prior to that, it had also come to light that it only had a few months of working capital remaining before it was effectively bankrupt. The reports were seemingly confirmed shortly after by the CEO of Sony subsidiary Phonofile, who noted that the music streaming provider had been late on making owed payments. That's in spite of the fact that it is among the more pricey services available and that it offers some relatively good benefits such as true Hi-Fi audio quality, access to more than 60 million songs, upwards of 240,000 videos.
With that said, in August, TIDAL managed to work out a deal with US cell carrier Sprint, including the service as part of its Unlimited Premium plan – which cost $90 per month at the time for subscribers. That helped the carrier balance out its own offering on top of 50GB of LTE mobile hotspot, mobile video streaming in HD, Hulu monthly service, and global roaming as well as unlimited talk, text, and 4G data. However, it was almost certainly more beneficial for TIDAL since it helped the company gain customers, exposure to prospective subscribers who may not have heard of the service, and validation as a mobile service provider partner.
Impact: Now, with that deal under wraps and ongoing, the company is reaching out again, this time through smart devices connected through the Amazon Alexa platform. While TIDAL has had a rocky past, the move could and should set it on an upward path. Not only will having service on the platform give it plenty more exposure. It also places it alongside some of the biggest names in music and media streaming, further validating its services and giving those, at least in some cases, hardware that can really support Hi-Fi playback it's best known for.