The Case for Tidal Copying Spotify’s UI

Why Tidal’s plagiarism isn’t a bad idea

There have been quite a few articles and discussions over the last day or two about how Tidal’s UI is a blatant copy of Spotify’s. I get it — there’s no denying the similarity in Tidal’s interface and I get the frustration that some people are voicing over it, but I also think it was a fairly smart decision from Tidal and here’s why.

  1. Designing interfaces is hard. It’s taken Spotify quite awhile to arrive at their current iteration and it’s pretty damn good. User frustration at having to learn a new navigation paradigm for the same tasks could easily cause people to give up on Tidal right off the bat. Copying the design reduces the friction for people who choose to switch — it’s already intuitive.
  2. Along similar lines, copying Spotify’s design helps take the app out of the equation and highlight the music. Instead of focusing on how the app looks or functions, users can focus on the differentiating feature, audio quality.
  3. Cost. Creating a great interface isn’t always cheap. The resources needed to mimic an existing design speeds up timelines and helps keep costs down during development. I’m not saying the Tidal interface is great — it’s a bit less polished than Spotify, but it’s solid for launch.

It’ll be interesting to see how Tidal evolves from this initial version. It’s not a far stretch to think that their customer base will end up being completely different from Spotify — people who don’t mind paying more for higher quality audio. If that turns out to be the case, let’s hope they are quick to iterate to create the best experience for their users.