As Deezer and Tidal begin to enter the U.S. streaming music market, they both have set themselves apart by offering higher quality audio. Most music services are streaming music at 320 kbps, whereas their offering will be flac files at 1,411 kbps (essentially streaming at CD quality).
Whether this strategy enables Deezer and Tidal to get a substantial customer base is yet to be determined. Yet offering much higher quality audio might nudge the existing services (Spotify, Beats Music, Rdio, etc.) to start moving toward streaming higher quality audio too.
This would be a big victory for the (relatively few) consumers that desire high quality audio, but a step in the right direction for getting the streaming services to give the best possible product that technology enables today.
As I’ve written before, audio quality will never be more important than convenience for the consumer. But if competition makes over-all streaming quality higher without sacrificing convenience, the music fans of the world come out ahead.
So will audio quality differentiate streaming services? I would say in the long run, no. But let’s welcome the competition which might continue to raise the bar of quality the music services offer. Stay tuned.