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Written by Ramsey Brown.
Since launching in 2014, Tidal has had the mission to empower artists and facilitate better connections between musicians and their fans. The subscription-based music streaming platform has always been praised among creatives for their more favorable artist payout systems — in comparison to other music streaming competitors.
Today, Tidal continues to improve and innovate the way artists get paid, implementing initiatives such as their new Direct Artist Payouts Program.
This experimental program aims to give artists access to another payment stream by allocating up to 10% of HiFi Plus subscriber’s fees directly to that account’s top streamed artist. This allows artists to benefit directly from the support of their fans on the platform.
The Direct Artist Payouts program is also an innovative way for fans to financially contribute to their favorite and most streamed artists through their membership fees they are already paying monthly.
Tidal takes a look back at a HiFi Plus subscriber’s top streamed artist at the end of every month, and then allocates the direct payment to that listener's most played artist. Qualified artists who enroll in the Direct Artist Payout program will be able to collect the payouts allocated to them on a monthly basis.
For example, if you have an individual HiFi Plus Tidal membership and you’re paying $19.99 a month, $2 will go into that plan and essentially flow directly to your top streamed artist for that particular month.
Direct-to-artist payments are currently allocated to primary recording artists that are listed on a track. “Featured” artists or songwriters currently do not accrue streams for purposes of the Direct Artist Payout program. However, Tidal is looking to implement a similar program for songwriters and feature artists in the future.
So, how can recording artists take advantage of this direct artist payout program? First, you want to ensure that your music is available on the Tidal platform. Once you have confirmed your music is distributed to the site — you then have two options for participating in this payout program:
Option 1 - Direct Registration: Tidal is currently working on expanding their direct registration capabilities, in coordination with Square, Cash App and PayPal as payment partners. This is currently done on an invite-only basis but they are looking to expand this in the near future.
Option 2 - Partner Registration: Tidal has partnered with various distribution companies as launch partners for the program — all artists who are using one of these partners can begin to benefit from the program once they accept the standard terms and conditions.
If you currently have a different music distributor than the ones listed above, you can contact Tidal directly at [email protected] and they will look into enabling direct registration.
Or, you can always connect with one of their distribution partners for help and questions on how to get started with the program.
If you are registering directly with Tidal (currently available on invitation only basis), they work with Square, Cash App and PayPal as available payment options (depending on your location). Additional details will be provided during the registration process.
If you are signed up for the program through one of their distribution partners, the distribution partner will be responsible for making payments to artists related to this program.
Artists will not get paid until they accumulate over $50. If the amount attributable to an artist is less than $50 in a given month, Tidal will add it to the next month (and the months after, if necessary), until the accumulated amount is higher than $50.
If you are registering with TIDAL directly (currently available on invitation only basis) and have earned more than the $50 monthly payout minimum, they will then pay out funds via the selected payment method within approximately 7 business days after month end.
If you are signed up for this program through one of the distributor partners (CD Baby, DistroKid, STEM, Symphonic and TuneCore), and meet the minimum threshold for payment of $50, your distributor will receive the associated funds within 7 business days after month end. From there, the distributor will pay those funds out to you in line with their business practices.
So, we’ve explained Tidal’s new Direct-to-Artist payment program… but what exactly does this mean for artists? First, it creates an additional revenue stream for creators — putting more money in their pockets that comes directly from the support of their fans.
Although artists won’t likely get rich from Tidal’s new payout program alone, it is a hopeful trajectory for the music streaming industry altogether. Tidal has proved to be a trailblazer in terms of how they pay and treat their artists — so we can only hope that other popular streaming services take similar steps and create competing initiatives that better support the musicians on their platforms.
This new payment method also highlights and promotes transparency in the industry around payments and compensation across the board. Tidal has delivered on its mission to “create a sustainable, artist-first and fan-centric business model for the music industry.” Artists can now simply check the My Activity tab in the app to see the results of the prior month's streams on Direct Artists Payouts. So, you have total clarity on how much money you are getting and where it’s coming from.
On top of this awesome new revenue stream Tidal has provided for it's creators, the program doesn't interfere or effect the current income generated from royalties. The Direct-to-Artist payout system is completely separate from money artists receive from streaming. So, musicians on the platform can look forward to collected both of these payment sources.
Tidal strongly believes that it is critical to introduce new avenues for artists to make money, in order to ensure a sustainable future for them. With the Direct Artist Payouts program, the company is looking to provide supplemental support for artists, as a way to enable them to create and promote their music more effectively with the help of their fans.
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© 2023 Omari MC, LLC. All Rights Reserved.