Tidal’s new Live feature will let you host a live DJing session

Tidal is rolling out a new feature that lets you act as a DJ and allow your friends to listen to your choices. The feature called Live is available for both HiFi ($9.99 per month) and HiFi Plus ($19.99 per month) subscribers of the streaming service.

This feature doesn’t exactly work like Spotify’s Group Sessions, which lets all participants control the song queue. Tidal’s Live feature puts one person in charge of the song selection (the initiator) — they handle the track listing. The Block-owned company has been testing it under the “DJ” moniker since last December, and now it is being rolled out to all users.

Users can create a session while listening to any song or playlist by tapping the Live button in the top-right corner. They can name the session and share the link with their friends. Those friends can click on the link to start listening to music if they are paying subscribers. If not, Tidal will ask them to join via a free trial.

Notably, whatever is in the session creator’s “now playing” queue becomes part of the session. But they can edit this list to make it more suitable to a session’s theme if needed. Tidal noted that the number of listeners in a session accounts for the number of streams per song. So if five people are listening to a track, it counts as five streams.

There’s a caveat though. 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.

Image Credits: Tidal

Tidal says that you will see different live sessions on the home page, including the ones by the company’s curators and your friends. The company said it is “learning and experimenting” with the section to make it more relevant to a user.

“With Live we wanted to do a couple of things. We thought music is something that should be easily shared. We wanted to create something for your family’s designated DJ or a friend who is a tastemaker, who can easily showcase their taste. Think of this as a tech-enabled version of connecting the aux cable at the party,” Agustina Sacerdote, global head of Product at Tidal, told TechCrunch over a call. (While the aux analogy is great, not sure people still relate to it given our phones don’t have headphone jacks anymore).

In terms of social features, users can only see how many people are tuned into a session. But there are no features like reactions or comments. Sacerdote said that the streaming service is “envisioning” features like giving thumbs-up or thumbs-down reactions to the DJ’s choices.

Image Credits: Tidal

Apart from releasing the feature, Tidal said that it is concentrating on supporting rising artists. The company is thinking of these artists as small businesses and wants to help them manage this stuff. It is leaning on Block’s expertise in helping small businesses and wants to build on that for artists. Though Tidal didn’t specify what tools it is making.

“We were very committed to this notion of helping artists better manage and grow their business, which is effectively their fans. So you can imagine a world in which Live becomes a tool with which artists manage and connect with their audiences,” Sacerdote said.

When TechCrunch asked if these tools would include things like merchandising, tickets or NFTs, Tidal said “all those things are not out of question,” but didn’t elaborate if it plans to release any of them. In February, Spotify started testing NFT-gated playlists with select artists and crypto projects.

Last month, Tidal shut down its direct artist payout program in favor of an emerging artist project called Tidal Rising. The company has committed $5 million to this program, and the money will be used in hosting workshops and helping artists with studio recordings and promotional materials.