Tidal has announced a number of new updates including a new free tier and enhanced paid subscription tiers, direct-to-artist payments, what it describes as “fan-centered royalties.”

Most interesting are the latter two categories, which partially address a longstanding complaint about streaming services: In a nutshell, under the current model, streaming services put all streams into one pile and pay artists, songwriters and rights-holders based on their percentage of that total number of streams. If you’re, say, Justin Bieber, BTS, the Weeknd or Adele, that’s a lot. If you’re not, it’s often not.

By the “user-centric” model, creators and rights-holders would be paid based on how much each user streams their music — so if someone streams nothing but Maroon 5 or MC Hammer or Frumious Bandersnatch, that artist would receive all of the revenue derived from that subscription.

Tidal’s new payment model, which is apparently only available in its $19.99-per-month HiFi Plus tier, partially adapts the user-centric model.

In addition to the free tier, the HiFi tier ($9.99/month) and HiFi Plus ($19.99 for even better HiFi and fan-centered royalties and direct-to-artist payments), the company has announced the following new ways to pay artists, which are quoted directly from the announcement below:

  • Direct-to-artist payments: Beginning today, Tidal will launch monthly direct-to-artist payments. This innovative program will give artists access to an additional payment stream, so they can benefit directly from their biggest fans on Tidal. Each month, a percentage of HiFi Plus subscribers’ membership fees will be directed towards their top streamed artist, which they will see in their activity feed. This direct-to-artist payment is in addition to their streaming royalties.
  • Fan-centered royalties: Starting in 2022, Tidal is taking a different approach on royalties. In this new model, royalties attributed to HiFi Plus subscribers will not be aggregated. Rather, royalties will be paid based on the actual streaming activity of individual HiFi Plus subscribers as opposed to the industry accepted method of aggregating streams, empowering fans to play a larger role in the success of their favorite artists. 

Tidal is using Square, Cash App, and PayPal for payouts to artists, and also has partnered with distributors CD Baby, DistroKid, Stem, Symphonic, and Tunecore, with Equity Distribution and Vydia launching in the coming weeks.

All artists must opt-in to access direct artist payouts, either through Tidal’s invite-only direct registration option or through one of its distribution partners. More information is available at Tidal.com/ForArtists.

“We’re building a platform that values art, artists, and culture, and for the first time opening the platform experience up to a wider group of fans with the free tier,” said Jesse Dorogusker, Head of Tidal. “Tidal is also supporting artists with fairer earning terms and quicker payments, and fans are getting a better way to support their favorite artists. These offerings are the first step of many, and we’re excited to collaborate with artists to evolve our tools to help them continue to grow and create on their own terms.”