Kanye West, $53 Million In Debt, Begs Fans for Help

Kanye West, $53 Million in Debt

Last week, pharmaceutical supervillain Martin Shkreli offered $10 million for Kanye West’s upcoming album, The Life of Pablo.  Maybe Kanye should have responded to the offer: according to information disclosed over the weekend, the rapper is buried under $53 million in personal debt, and desperately seeking well-moneyed backers.


Actually, it’s too late for Shkreli’s bid, thanks to a Tidal exclusive currently underway.  Perhaps Tidal paid more than $10 million upfront, given the extreme publicity West typically generates.  A better monetary offer would obviously make Tidal the better choice for Kanye, especially since the world can ultimately hear the release, instead of being locked inside Shkreli’s apartment like Wu-Tang Clan’s just-sold album, Once Upon a Time In Shaolin.

For Tidal, the Kanye exclusive closely follows a high-profile exclusive around Rihanna’s just-released Anti, part of a top-heavy strategy that driving tons of awareness and app downloads (and possibly, paying subscribers).  Kanye, who may drive monetary incentives from recently activity, is doing his part to fan the flames.


Separately, West remains a master of driving attention.  The latest well-timed ploy involves a saucy sex lyric driven at Taylor Swift, one driving droves of attention to Pablo, and Tidal.



8 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    His tweets seem to have worked – Tidal made it to the top of the App Store. Of course, that still leaves a lot of unknowns (will people actually pay, or just listen to the music on the free trial and then cancel?), but it’s better than people NOT signing up to Tidal 🙂

    That said, exclusives on streaming services are just terrible for fans…. pay $10 for this album on Spotify, and $10 for that album on Tidal, and another $10 for something on Apple Music – it’s more likely to piss consumers off and get them to pirate more than it is to get money out of them. If a system sucks for consumers (here, the entire demand side of the market) and there are ways for consumers to easily get around that system (YouTube, piracy), then it’s not sustainable.

    This “exclusive content” strategy is good for the service (e.g., Tidal gets a bump in downloads) and it’s good for the artist who provides the exclusive content (and almost definitely gets a huge payout for it), but big picture it sucks for consumers, so it will hurt the music industry and every artist who doesn’t get paid for exclusives.

    Of course, it benefits the streaming service, so after Tidal’s success with Kanye we should probably expect to see Apple and Spotify shelling out a few million for exclusives over the next few months.

  2. Anonymous

    And then just after reading an article on Tidal making it to the top of the App Store, there’s another article on TechCrunch on the subject:

    TIDAL Flubs Kanye West’s Album Release

    Apparently they don’t have the back-end to support a successful marketing push, as many consumers purchased the album but never received a download link. In some cases, consumers were double billed (plus some funky “pre-auth” charges that will be reversed but could take “up to a few weeks” to be processed).

    Awesome: TIDAL got a ton of people to pay for an album – and then gave them a terrible experience. That’ll teach ’em to pay for music.

  3. bombtune

    Kanye West is a musician, a fashion designer and now a video game producer.

    The music itself is not enough for Kanye.

    Will Smith and LL Cool J used their success in music to go into acting but at the expense of their rhymes. Their hip-hop skills suffered.

    Success is one area hampers or taints the other. Kanye still thinks he’s a hit-making machine with a Midas Touch. It doesn’t help that’s he’s surrounded by people that are also living in their own tabloid cocoon.

    When I saw Kanye perform in 2003 he was at the top of his game, making his own beats and rhymes and producing for Mos Def and Common. He was appreciative and still learning. That Kanye even showed some humility.

    But Kanye’s new music is unlistenable, along with his persona.

    Today, Kanye is just another Internet celebrity that makes a lot of noise but offers little value in return. His comments in favor of Bill Cosby are beyond absurd. Like Donald Trump, he uses bombast to make up for his creative vulnerability.

    Next week Kanye may be (or think he is) a movie director like Spielberg. He may run for President in the next decade.

    Writing in excess is often an indication that you haven’t found the right words yet. The same can be applied to artists that overcompensate their past success and exaggerate their skills to stamp their mastery on other types of work.

    Mr. West needs to stop changing his new album name and go back to the studio and make another record that matters.

    Kanye is a much better marketer than creator. But having built up a legion of fans and married the lightning rod of the Internet, he’s ensured that his ego, not his work, will be relevant for years to come.


  4. Tim Wood

    Can I just sit back and enjoy this a bit, before work?

    I guess it takes some genius to piss away $53 million, then hit up your credulous fans for more scratch to prop up your bankrupt “art” and life.

    Gimme a break please; make it a double.

  5. Jbob

    I need a little help on this one. What’s the deal with Kanye? I’m a fan of all kinds of music and art and I fail to see or feel anything from this guy. What am I missing?


  6. Rick Shaw

    Why does anyone pay attention to anything this guy says, any more? He should just make music and shut the f up.


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